Moral authority

After nearly a decade of war with Afghanistan it may be time to take a step back and ask a couple of questions. The most important of which is "what are we hoping to accomplish?".

On the surface of things invading Afghanistan may have seemed like an inevitable response to the 9/11 attacks. Nevermind that the might of the Soviet empire never managed to gain control over the country during its more than a decade long foray into asymmetrical warfare: it was important for politicians to be seen as doing something. So even though the fight was not a winnable one, participation in it was expected.

But 10 years in, why are we not accomplishing much? Why is the situation still not under control?

Part of the reason is that we no longer have moral auhority.

The previous administration defined a new low with regard to government integrity and specifically a new low with regard to the integrity of individuals holding various posts within the government. The president, the vice president, the secretary of defense, he secretary of justice and an assortment of other secretaries and advisors demonstrated beyond any doubt that the US government is not beholden to law - international or national. We had a spectacular demonstration of how it is possible to hijack a democracy and abuse power to further private agenda. Be they motivated by profit, by personal agenda or religious zeal.

Wars were started on false premises and outright lies, the government made sure that certain private parties were able to profit handsomely from preferred treatment as part of the war effort. But worse yet: the US shed any and all principles that would otherwise have stood in the way of such gross indecency and abuse: the US is now on record as a supporter of rendition, torture and imprisonment without due process. Anything "rogue states" have been accused of in the past, the US is now in favor of. Criminal acts that in relatively recent history lead to harsh sentences, including capital punishment, are now deemed acceptable actions.

Add to that the installment of the likes of Hamid Karzai as the president of Afghanistan. An unprincipled, shady, weak-willed puppet of the US - though it could be argued that he is not even an effective tool in that respect since he appears prone to not keeping in line with the script that he has been given.

But the big problem rests with President Obama.

By not making any credible effort to address the transgressions of the previous administration, history has already started to solidify and Obama has cast himself in the role of Bush apologist. The war crimes perpetrated by the Bush administration will never be prosecuted. Of course, this means that Obama is, for all practical purposes, as morally bankrupt as the people who committed these war crimes.

Engaging in warfare against an opponent that has no infrastructure and does not depend on infrastructure cannot be won by traditional means. It can only be won by moral superiority. The US does not have moral superiority.

The "war on terror" is little more than a tool for radicalized religious zealots and war profiteers to further their agenda. As long as the Obama administration is unwilling to bring war criminals to justice and insists on wasting time on putting on a show, from perpetuating unwinnable wars to terrorizing its own population, the "war on terror" can only act as an amplifier for the agendas of the terrorists within and outside the US. Within and outside government.

I hope that Obama will yet do the right thing. Now that his chances of a second term has been significantly reduced, I hope that he will spend his remaining time in office to put things right. To put aside petty politics and to rebuild the foundations of the democracy. Because until the US rehabilitates its shattered moral principles, it will not be in any position to affect lasting positive change for itself or the world.

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