Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton are coalescing around a proposal to send 30,000 or more additional American troops to Afghanistan.
Mr. Gates, a Republican who served as President George W. Bush’s last defense secretary, and who commands considerable respect from the president, is expected to be pivotal in Mr. Obama’s decision.3 Top Obama Advisers Favor Adding Troops in Afghanistan - NYTimes.com. Like the disaster known as the "health care debate," there are not really a lot of options on the table. But at least in the health care "debate," the public option folks have managed to get a toe in the door (even if that door is repeatedly slammed on their toe). In terms of military and foreign policy, our choices are far right and center right. Escalate by a lot or escalate by a lot more. Actual choice and actual policy debate would look something like this: listen to people outside the military/defense industries (including the few politicians whose careers do not rely on contributions from military contractors); consider how aid and development in Afghanistan and in the crumbling US economy might benefit people more than bombs, consider the real costs of war- not just dead Americans, but dead Afghans, generations of ruined lives, environmental costs, and the opportunity costs of spending so much money and resources on killing. As of right now the US has spent nearly a TRILLION dollars on the wars in Afghanistan (about $230 MILLION) and Iraq. There may be close to a million civilian casualties in the two countries and as we are reminded by Veteran's Day, tens of thousands of US troops dead and many hundreds of thousands more wounded, and even more with the invisible psychic scars of PTSD. How can a President as smart as Obama surround himself with a bunch of war-profiteers and peddlers of death? Letting Bush's man, Gates, be his most trusted adviser on the war is as if Dumbledore listened to Voldemort's right-hand man. Obama should fire Gates (and Clinton for that matter) and surround himself with people who are not invested in endless war but rather seeking real alternatives to it. And if he doesn't we can only assume the Death Eaters have already sucked out his soul.