Before President Barry’s Mid-East speech in a couple days, I thought I’d set down a couple observations and maybe a solution or two. Heck, since he won’t listen anyway, why not a grand overarching scheme for the whole region? Couldn’t hurt, right? But first a couple basic questions.
Do I think the terrorists would love to carpet bomb the US from the sky with drones or plant a nuke device on a train to hit some midwest metropolitan center if they could? Yeah, I do. That is at least a possibility. Do I think there’s very many of them? Dunno, but not really. Do I think there’s a better way than responding with war (xenophobic or not) or ‘taking the war to the enemy’ with invasions and mercenaries and airpower and TSA? Sure. At least potentially.

To me, an exit from war means a lot of stuff. And it starts with individuals. When people talk about the killing of our fellow humans, I’m with them. Totally agree. They are the same as us, same concerns. They want to be free from war as much or more than us, having endured the frontline, often for decades. Afghani’s want to be free from war and terror and US forces, free from mine fields, free from constant deaths. Free from the uncertainty of what happens next. Free to defend their home, free to send their kids to school and not worry if they’ll make it home alive, free to eat food that didn’t pay for more killing or guns or mines.

I don’t know how many people died last year in Afghanistan from the war. Any calculation would have a set of rivals somebody would dispute. What gets me is the human toll. Lives lost, shattered, children left crippled or blinded, poisoned in their minds for life, if they make it to adulthood. In Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, Cote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Congo, or in Mexico.

But then, how many died from car accidents in the US last year? Is it more than the number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan last year? Also possibly comparable, the number of US citizens who died last year because they couldn’t afford health insurance. Close to 45,000. And that rate has been going on for twenty plus years. That’s a lot of tax revenue ain’t it, if they had been healthy?
So despite the USGov’s insistence on spending more on military and not charging an extra cent in taxes for health care, I can agree with those that say they have shown their priorities and have been shown wanting.

But I’m for withdrawing the military from Iraq, per current schedule if not sooner.
Also for withdrawing from Afghanistan as per Karzai’s pointed question a week ago of why we’re still there:
Our mission in Afghanistan broken down by Bush (the short version):
1) get OBL
2) making it hard for al qaeda to hide and deny safe haven to them
3) establish Af-Pak as a place that is hostile to terrorists

We have accomplished 1) and all but 2) and all the locals in both Afghanistan and Pakistan say that if we were to leave that would be the greatest incentive for peace in the region…

So, I say, IMHO tell your congresscritter to get out of the region and, get this,

make a grand security bargain for the region…

Let the US ‘police’ the region from the water with our NAVY, protecting the shipping lines for everyone … China, Pakistan, India, Africa, the whole gulf region, and the all important suez canal. This would necessitate, close relations with Egypt, with Kuwait, the UAE, keep our base in Bahrain for the fifth fleet and Diego Garcia in Indian Ocean. There will have to be a separate deal for Russia who will demand special concessions [‘What’s in it for us?’], or Israel [‘How could you do such a thing!?’] as they will demand, or both.

But Everything else, we get out. Offer conditional humanitarian aid in crises when the UN or allies agrees (so it happens now and then, not just when congress or UN, or our allies alone would want it — so not all the freaking time – ) but only humanitarian aid above and beyond security to keep those essential shipping lanes open for int’l trade and commerce… promoting American capitalistic intentions and values.
A strategy for the next century and meanwhile we can pull our troops home, slash defense budgets — we can cut our defense in half and still have more military than the rest of the world combined – and spend our money on rebuilding infrastructure and provide jobs here and health care for all and time to heal our wounded. Our Vets and service industries need all the help we can give them. And fix the foreclosure mess. And get the wall street perps to walk.etcetc

So there it is, You’ve heard my ‘solution’ quick and dirty as it is wrt exiting Afghanistan and Pakistan and my notion of a grand bargain that the US could offer the region for security which can enable the subsequent defense cuts and so on, which many on the Hill are indeed looking at with cooperation of people like Robert Gates and so on. But my focus has always been, whether Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Sierra Leone or Colombia or anywhere else:
how do we deter terrorists or criminal minds from producing more like themselves for future acts of terror against anybody?
how do we go about clearing the minefields both physically and emotionally, individually and macroscopically?
how do we go about stopping the madness and start healing the hurt and working toward a place where we can best use our resources instead of tearing each other apart over the few scraps left we can see?
We can’t do that if we call each other murderers. Certainly not one’s we agree with 95% of the time.

We’re not out of money, see. There’s always more money. So let’s try healing and helping and building. Not austerity, and cantonment-apportioning like Benton Harbor, MI, or starving the beast. If anybody feels like invading somewhere we should gather all the 2012 candidate’s money and invade the banks of the Cayman islands, with lawyers and auditors! Would the IMF do it? Think outside the box. We have all been ground down by all this warmongering and military hoopla for so long. War and terror and security and fear has drained our confidence in human resourcefulness and it will take time for this to spring back. But it will. Let’s be the spring.

Because I predict if we can think past the crises – and yeah, they’re piling up – at solutions, at how we would like to see things turn out, I propose we can excite people to become engaged in solutions we’d all rather see rather than disgusted again at more of the same yelling and madness and killing and see the voters turn away with more disgust.