The Baggage Of American Extremism No Enemy, No Negotiations: Only The Dead Are Real By Gordon Duff Senior Editor When General Petraeus asked for the "surge" in Iraq, he also opened negotiations with top Sunni and Shiite militia leaders, opened not only "negotiations" but started passing out cash. This combined with the "hammer" of a powerful new military force was the temporary military solution he had been tasked with, one that was, within limits, successful. The lack of real diplomatic negotiations after that has bogged the US down in Iraq where it now looks like we may spend years. Now our new "surge" in Afghanistan won't even have a Taliban "buyoff." We had become addicted to the "black and white" version of Bushitism to the extent that we, as a nation, have given up thought entirely. We know we can't win. Do we expect an army of angels to come down from heaven, the ones Cheney, Bush and Rumsfeld dreamed of, or are we going to start acting like a world leader again and identify the players, bring them to the table and do our best to really win where it counts? There are a couple of ways to go when discussing diplomacy. You can talk about the process and how it should end a conflict or look at the underlying reasons for never even considering it. Do we accept that abandoning diplomacy as a sign of "weakness" so we could move forward with the ill fated invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan was part of a realignment of our culture? How do we recover from basing our actions on facts to basing them on belief and mythology? Eight years of bizarre "Christian Zionism," a military run by religious fanatics and a government of drugstore cowboys and phony evangelists was unprepared to guide a superpower toward policies of responsible world leadership. Now, President Obama is afraid to stop "driving over a cliff" simply because nobody wants to tell the American people the truth, how stupid and useless we have actually become, and how idiotic our policies have been. It is assumed that so many Americans are mentally defective, addicted to imaginary vaccine plots and secret UN invasions, that acting like a responsible and intelligent world leader would not seem "credible." NEGOTIATIONS: WHO AND HOW We have a couple of problems to begin with. Few understand what Afghanistan is. It certainly isn't a country, not by any stretch of the imagination. It is a product of haggling between Britain and Russia over a hundred years ago, and a bit more misguided fooling around in 1947. Afghanistan is aligned with India and hates Pakistan. Most Afghani's are Pashtun tribesmen, some are settled and many are nomadic, some of whom are extremely warlike, requiring no given enemy, they will attack each other out of boredom. Currently, the "Taliban," not the same Taliban as before, but a new "friendlier" Taliban, or so they tell us, controls 80% of Afghanistan entirely and most of the other 20% too. We keep trying to name leaders, heartless "evil doers" to get troops and money flowing but, in truth, nobody is in charge. This is the problem. With nobody in charge, President Karzai in Kabul runs nothing, the Taliban is a loose bunch of "unnamed others" who would be fighting each other if we weren't there, there is nobody we can easily negotiate with even if we weren't as crazy as they are, a fact in evidence to everyone but us. SURROGATE WAR BETWEEN INDIA AND PAKISTAN Much of the war in Afghanistan invovles India and Pakistan in ways American doesn't see. India is supplying the Taliban because they are fighting against Pakistan. India likes the United States but their weapons are used against the US. India doesn't care. Pakistan wants Afghanistan to have a small army because war between Afghanistan and Pakistan is very likely. It that happens, India is likely to invade Pakistan and the war will go nuclear. This is almost unavoidable and we are paying no attention to this. BIN LADEN AND THE TERRORISTS All "reality based" people know Osama bin Laden has been dead for years. The only people mentioning him are con men looking for someone to blame or trying to scare ******. Not only is bin Laden dead but Al Qaeda, if it existed at all, and proof of this is scarce, either moved to Africa or everyone in Al Qaeda quit and went home. We can all agree they went to Africa and we can run around there looking for them. All we find now is an occasional "leader" who we blow to kingdom come with our Predator drones. What we do agree on is that there are fewer members of Al Qaeda than would fill a bus. These are America's official estimates, the ones used by Gates and McChrystal. There is no evidence that there are any terrorist training camps in Pakistan or Afghanistan where attacks on the US are being planned. This is a fantasy. Can you expect an intelligence estimate whose cover sheet is adorned with mysterious quotes from the Old Testament to be any more credible inside than outside? This was the norm in the Rumsfeld Pentagon. If the truth didn't match biblical prophesy as interpreted by TV evangelists, the military changed the truth. Reality based people call "changed truth" a form of lying. WHO ARE THE PLAYERS? Nobody wants to admit who the interested parties are in the conflict between Iran, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan, the real problem. The US is involved for sure. Britain caused the problem, so they should be included. Brits like Richard North and Mike Smith are among the few who understand any of this. China has considerable interest in the region as does Russia. Without recognizing their economic spheres of influence, no lasting solution can be realized. Israel is the primary arms supplier to India and maybe others too. They also have economic interests but generally act thru their surrogate, the United States. WHERE DO WE START? A first step would be to push the Taliban to set up a Shura or leadership council and arrange for a cease fire. The threat of 30,000 new troops and expanded Predator attacks should make these discussions desirable. Accepting the fact that Afghanistan will solve their own problems and that no foreign power will do anything positive there militarily is paramount. Outlining regional problems, nuclear threats, decades old conflicts and regional economic needs should be on the table. War without purpose is what we have now. Our cover story, forcing a military solution on a nation that rejects, not only Karzai and his Kabul regime but all American involvement may sell in Washington and Tel Aviv but not in the real world. Educating Americans about the realities of our own mistakes and the depth of the idiocy of others we have walked into blind and, oh yes, deaf too, is a start. Veterans Today Senior Editor Gordon Duff is a Marine combat veteran and regular contributor on political and social issues.