Wrong Again, Sen. Graham: Cole in Truthdig

My column is just out in Truthdig, entitled “Wrong Again, Sen. Graham,” on the South Carolina senator’s modest proposal to keep two big American air bases in Afghanistan “permanently.”

Graham says the bases would keep Afghanistan from being taken back over by the Taliban. But is that anyway an actual prospect? And wouldn’t the bases be sure to backfire, fueling militancy aimed at getting the foreigners out of the country?

Excerpt:

‘ Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., repeated on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday his hope that the United States can maintain at least two permanent air bases in Afghanistan. He was pushing back against Vice President Joe Biden’s pledge that the U.S. would be out of Afghanistan by 2014 “come hell or high water.” Graham has been wrong about almost everything in the Middle East for a decade and a half, so this harebrained proposal is hardly surprising. But it signals the harder line likely to be pursued by Republicans now that they have taken back the House of Representatives and have much strengthened their position in the Senate. ‘

Read the whole thing…

12 Responses

  1. Just in case nobody else reads and links stuff like this, if anyone cares about how “we” get to where “we” are, take a read of Tom Engelhardt’s latest post: link to tomdispatch.com

    Yep, war is a drug. It is also way too profitable, and way too much fun… if you are the guy steering the Predator/Reaper/Raptor…

  2. Prof. Cole:

    Your wrong about this. I recall reading in this and other spaces the certainty that the Bush administration intended to keep permanent bases in Iraq. That unfalsifiable assertion was finally rendered false when Bush signed the SOF Agreement–which Obama has (thus far) admirably executed.

    It will be the same in Afghanistan and not just for the valid reasons that you’ve cited. Circumstances will either compel our leaving or–if Petraeus’ gambit is successful–a half-decent Afghan government will insist that we leave for the very reasons that Maliki wants us gone (and which you’ve cited.)

    You should also remember that so-dreaded Tea Party has a strong enough isolationist element to threaten real unity problems if the Republicans embark on more deficit swelling foreign adventures.

    • What nonsense;the wingnuts, and this includes the teabaggers, will always find excuses enough to spend tax dollars on war and empire.

      • You mean like Ron and Rand Paul?

        I’m afraid that liberals and conservatives now have one more thing in common: they’re out of cash. In case you missed the forest for the trees, the federal deficit hit $14 trillion this week. The Chinese and Near Easterns are financing Obamacare, Afghanistan, Wall Street Reform, and just about everything else the government does.

        Wingnuts and Moonbats can dream about the next war, the next entitlement, in fact, anything they want.

        But the dough has run out for expensive wars and occupations.

        • I guess I haven’t been paying attention. I thought that the recent sale of Treasuries went pretty well, and now there’s news that maybe the possibly-not-inexhaustible-but-still-very-rape-able small business inventiveness and resourcefulness and sticktoitivity has maybe jump-started “job growth” again. And where in the military hahhah “budget” do you see any CUTS, even to the “rate of growth,” which is all Gates said he was even going to take a potshot at anyway. And the MIC sort of self-funds by selling those High Tech High Dollar Weapons of Mass Delusion to competitor states and actual enemies (in some books), like Blackhawks to the militarists in the People’s Republic of China that the WSJ implies today are rolling out a (gasp!) STEALTH FIGHTER of their very own! Terrorists! (Huh. I wonder — is selling US-developed weaponry like F-35s to the Saudis [oh, minus those double-secret-probation add-on thingies like the AN-AMQ-Rootietootootie blister pack that only OUR fighter jocks will have the use of], and GIVING them to the ISDF in exchange for maybe thinking about possibly considering the opportunity to discuss slowing down the slow-motion invasion of Gaza, West Bank and all those not-reactionary-zionist lands in the neighborhood of the City of Peace and Love, is that not maybe best characterized as “treason?” Just asking…)

          And of course there’s a bunch of money to be grabbed and converted into war toys by stripping what’s left of the “middle class,” killing unions and selling public highways for a song to privateers who will turn ‘em into toll roads. C’mon, if the Reds prevail, you can count on a Forever War and 2-Minute Hates until the cockroaches rule in Glockamorra…

  3. Graham is not alone in having been wrong about everything in the Middle East for a decade and a half. One could say that about the US (and UK) as well.

    And he is (part of) the US government that some (misguided?) people think will or should impose peace on Israel and Palestine? Can a know-nothing or dishonest “broker for peace” be an honest or honorable or knowledgeable “imposer of peace”?

  4. Obama’s promise of ‘all out in 2014′ is premised on his admin. surviving 2012, and the durability of any Afghan gov’t demanding a SOFA/Withdrawal Agreement, a la Iraq. Many guess that NATO and the UN will be reluctant to continue to war even that long, especially leary/weary if another Republican war party regains the WH and the war budget.

    Speaking of Iraq lessons, and strategic air bases, US tenancy at Mosul, Balad, Baghdad and H3 air bases will expire 2012 (with Obama’s first term) under the Withdrawal Agreement/SOFA signed by Bush in 2008. Both Sunni and Shiite pols must support US compliance, and restoration of Iraqi sovereignty over their airspace, the termination of US military air ops.

    If an Iraqi civil/military air forces aren’t stood up in 2011, US withdrawal will mean that the IA/IP won’t have much in the way of surveillance and close air combat support as we withdraw 2012.

    A sovereign Iraq, facing insurgency and cross-border artillery incidents, needs hundreds of helos, thousands of pilots, jets, transports and drones. And the massive ground support team to maintain them. That’s a $100B project, in round numbers. Way more than an impoverished and conflicted Iraq can stand up, without massive foreign aid. Even with unlimited aid, two years is a crash program. Literally.

    Plenty of leverage there for US militarists to use in pressing anew for basing rights, and for nationalists and int’l jihadis to call it imperialism.

  5. I think one should remind Sen. Graham, how often people of Okinawa protest against US base there. They want US out from there.

    In addition, the other place Sen. Graham should know what happened to US Naval base at Subic Bay in the Philippines. Who air lifted Marcos to Hawaii? There were no Pathan or Pushtoon tribes there.

    It was almost the repeat of Khomeini revolution in the Philippines.

  6. Graham is perhaps the Israel lobby’s most powerful gentile member.

    The lobby’s primary goal now in getting the US to attack Iran. Seems pretty clear that the main reason they might want bases in Afghanistan is to further threaten the Islamic Republic.

    • Really? Graham, only one of one hundred senators, is the most powerful gentile supporting Israel?

      I think you’re forgetting about the 63% of Americans, who, according to Gallup, support Israel:

      link to gallup.com

      I suspect Graham listens to them more than they listen to him.

    • Graham’s ‘bomb, bomb Iran’ war party needs to set conditions such that Iran appears to be the aggressor. The Ayatollah-4-life violently oppressing his own people is insufficient.

      The form of dumbed down US and world history used in mass political discourse has us responding to sneak attacks in nearly every war, even if it’s just med students afraid of being hostage in Grenada, or USN ships shooting at ghosts in the Gulf of Tonkin.

      In obeisance to our foundation mythos, we are always Gary Cooper’s outnumbered sherif, in High Noon. Wait for it.

  7. Which of the many countries we have invaded since 1898 did we not leave at least one base upon “withdrawal” of troops?

    You don’t establish a literal empire of 800 bases in over 100 countries doing otherwise.

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