I tried to watch Rachel Maddow the other night, who I used to love, but 38 minutes into her broadcast she had only discussed the GOP candidates. So much for MSNBC being left-leaning. The net effect of focusing mainly on Trump is that we seldom hear discussion of Hillary’s plans versus Bernie’s plans. Contrasting the two democrats’ tax plans, health care plans, plans for more affordable education, job creation, etc. and how they would shake down for a student, a retiree, a family of four–we never get that analysis because Trump’s insanity dominates. So many who aren’t politically engaged only fear the GOP boogieman and are prone to go with Hillary, who despite Bernie’s momentum is still the frontrunner. The politically unengaged may also not be aware that for in polls for many months, Bernie has beat all GOP rivals by more points than Hillary–in a few, she even lost to Kasich or to Rubio. And it’s sad that MSNBC would go so TMZ in an election with two fundamentally different democrats running. Democracy doesn’t work without an informed electorate. And if our news is more focused on the ratings they get from Trump’s latest shocking statements, we stay uniformed.
But Rachel surprised me last night with her ending segment. I’d listened to Rachel for years on Air America and last night, she bravely went against the establishment grain and asked a very tough question. And even faulted the media and all candidates for it’s lack of discussion on this issue. The war in Afghanistan.
Obama campaigned on withdrawing from Afghanistan by 2014. Didn’t happen. We still have 9,800 troops there and he’s said that he’ll be passing this conflict on to our next president. Not only is the war in Afghanistan the longest war in US history, we’ve now spent more rebuilding that country than on the Marshall Plan, which rebuilt Europe after World War II. (That was Rachel’s point, not mine.) I actually couldn’t find her quick end segment on MSNBC videos offered, so I created an account to watch the episode in full. It needed to be transcribed. Here are her other points and even a long but telling quote.
We went into Afghanistan to rid the world of the Taliban. (I do not disagree with that war because the Taliban, not Iraq, was responsible for the 9/11 attacks.) However, we went in in 2001 and now in 2016, the Taliban now controls more of Afghanistan than it did in 2001–about 1/3rd of the country. So we can’t win the war and we can’t end the war. Against a dirt poor country. Sound fishy to you?
Rachel: “And now, in year 15, the mission is expanding. President Obama recently directed a new effort by US special forces in Afghanistan to conduct new offensive operations in that country commissioned new offensive operations, but not against the Taliban. This time these new operations are against ISIS. We think of this of this forever war in Afghanistan as a two-sided fight, but we’ve now been there long enough that that’s now out of date. Now the fight against the Taliban is being waged along a separate war against a new player–roughly 1000 fighters for ISIS, who are hostile not only to the US, and to the Afghan government, but also to the Taliban. So ISIS guys are fighting the Taliban, we’re fighting the Taliban. Does that mean we’re on the side of ISIS? Of course not. On the other hand, we’re fighting ISIS, the Taliban is fighting ISIS, so are we on the side of the Taliban? No, of course not.
We’re fighting the Taliban and ISIS and ISIS and the Taliban are also fighting each other. If we had a sane and responsible political in this country, this is what our presidential candidates would be clobbering each other about right now. This is what they’d be clamoring over to beat each other up politically. Because we the voters would be holding them accountable to whether or not they would be able to fix this. Because this, for us, needs a political solution. I am no expert and neither are you, but the solution that has not worked in 15 straight years of trying is probably not going to be one that is going to work in 16 years either. Or 17 or 18.
Nothing starts to work in year 16. And if we’re going to get a new approach here, it’s going to have to come from Congress–HAH! as if–or it’s going to have to come from one of these nice folks. (Cut to a picture of all presidential candidates.) And as long as the war is seen as a foreign story, something the only affects military families, and as long as the fate and the work of 10,000 American troops is not seen as something American politicians actually have to make decisions about, as long as this is just seen as an interesting international news story, then a smart solution is never going to arrive like a gift from heaven. This thing is going to just keep chugging along.
This week we started our 15th straight fighting season in that country. The first presidential candidate to notice that wins a prize. The first presidential candidate who talks about how to fix that ought to win the White House. If our political system made any sense.”
THANK YOU, RACHEL! ACTUAL NEWS IS VERY REFRESHING!
If you actually support the troops, maybe you’d like to give some thought to bringing them home from the longest war in US history in which we are fighting multiple enemies without a winning strategy. Because many want to keep gays from eating at your wedding cakes or prevent women form getting legal abortions, or because many want a female president so badly even though the only one running has the hawkish foreign policy of a republican, most of us have given up on peace. The “christian country” which worships the Prince Of Peace has gotten so wrapped up with who uses which bathroom that it forgot it’s religions’ basic tenet THOU SHALT NOT KILL. I’d see you all in hell if there was one.
Bernie Sanders is the only candidate who even resembles a dove in this election. All republicans potential nominees and Hillary seek war, and not to protect us. Only to enrich the military/industrial complex which profits from war while using young men and women as pawns in their bloody game. Yet no presidential candidate can win on a strategy which might make the US seem weak and suggest withdrawing from a war we can’t win. Bernie has tried to claim that if the US can’t afford to care for it’s veterans, we can’t afford to go to war. I agree with that. He’s even mentioned “world peace” twice as a goal. But sadly, the American people have been fooled into thinking that war is necessary because we’re constantly under attack, and anyone suggesting peace is somehow weak. Our “interests”–Israel, the Ukraine and countries we want oil from may be under attack but the US is not. We are the attackers around the world. And our attacks actually create more terrorists in Afghanistan (where we now have more Al Qaeda and ISIS now), Iraq (where ISIS was born after Bush’s war), Libya (where ISIS developed after Hillary overthrew their government as Secretary Of State with no plan for the ending chaos) and Syria–where Hillary wants a no-fly zone. (Which could lead to a proxy war with Russia.)
Do you think the troops we have stationed all over the world are handing out lollipops? We just filed taxes–don’t you think that if we didn’t spend a huge portion of each tax dollar on defense that we’d have plenty of money left over for universal health care, free college education, rebuilding our infrastructure, expanding social security and much that we need here at home? But we’re hell-bent on jumping into fights all over the world. Time to fix home. And leave them alone. As Afghanistan proves, they hate us and they hate each other. Let’s tell them goodbye and bring our troops home. That’s supporting the troops. With a fortune left over to BENEFIT Americans rather than DESTROY.