Marx begins THE EIGHTEENTH BRUMAIRE OF LOUIS NAPOLEON with the famous line: "Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historical facts and personages occur, as it were, twice. He has forgotten to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce." Recent revelations in the Afghanistan fiasco demonstrate once more the prescience of the great Karl.
We now learn that the much touted "negotiations" between the Americans and a "senior Taliban leader" have actually been going on for three months between General Petreaus and a Pakistani shopkeeper who, as a reward for his charade, has apparently carted off well in excess of $100,000. No satirist, of however dark a mind, could have invented this. Not even the great Mel Brooks, auteur of YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN and SPACEBALLS, would have dared to venture onto the big screen with so absurd a story line. General Petreaus is revealed as an utter fool, and President Obama is made ridiculous. Why have we not managed to capture Usama Ben Laden? Because we cannot tell the difference between an enemy general and a self-promoting shopkeeper. Petreaus has apparently been relying on a nifty bit of space age gadgetry called the "Handheld Interagency Detection Equipment," or HIDE, which, it was thought, would instantaneously identify authentic Taliban senior officials. [I am really not making this up. I have neither the imagination nor the stomach for such an act of creativity. I am simply repeating what is now widely acknowledged on the web to be the simple state of play within the American High Command.]
It is for clowns like these that American men and women are dying or being maimed. It is for this that hundreds of billions of dollars we do not have are being spent. There is no rage adequate to the criminality of this God-forsaken policy. This is Obama's fault -- not Bush's, not Cheney's, not the fault of Gates or Petreaus or Clinton or Holbrooke. Anyone could see, even from a great distance, that this policy was doomed to fail, and many of us said so well before Obama made his decision to escalate the war. The blood of the Americans [and of the Afghans] is on his hands.