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January 28, 2009

Arms And Arms

Gates testifying.jpg

To me at least, the sight of Gates’s injury, although completely incidental to his testimony yesterday before the Senate Armed Services Committee (no pun intended), is almost painfully suggestive.

Whether addressing Obama’s intention to intensify our military involvement in Afghanistan or the more specific desire to upgrade U.S. battlefield trauma care there, the image — highlighting, more than anything else perhaps, the franker dialogue coming out of this new Administration — lends more reality to the cost to be paid.

(image: J. Scott Applewhite/A.P. – caption: Defense Secretary Robert Gates testifies about strains on the Pentagon’s budget as President Barack Obama plans to shift military resources away from Iraq and toward Afghanistan, during an a appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2009. Gates, the only Cabinet holdover from the Bush Administration, is recuperating from surgery to his left arm which he injured during Christmas handling snow equipment.)

  • Gasho

    Yes, yes.. This is interesting.
    A broken arm suggests “broken” as much as “armed” and is strangely symbolic of our military might at this point in time. A cast or bandages, however suggest that while something is damaged, it is also on the mend – and having that out in the open and ‘on the table’ can be read as a sign of the times.
    Long live the BAG!

  • Alan

    The thought that came to my mind when I looked at this image was perhaps Gates has had his arm twisted lately. If we see McConnell and Boener walking around in slings too, I’ll only think the better of Obama.

  • elfpix

    Despite being pretty attuned to the visual in this political age my first thought here was that this was Mr. Bush sitting before the viewer. Superficially the head shape, eyes and mouth bear an uncanny similarity especially the veil over the eyes.

  • cenoxo

    Arms And Arms
    ..and hands and hands and feet and feet and heads and heads. Costs are going up…

    …and the price is still not right (or left). Obama keeps charging things on the Neocon credit card, but it’s American men and women who are paying the bill.
    Doesn’t he know there’s a recession on?
    (chart: The Afghan-Pakistan War: A Status Report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, July 3, 2008)

  • yg

    are you calling gates a neocon? gates is the one who convinced bush not to bomb iran.

  • cenoxo

    If Iran decides not to obey America, President Obama may very well take that opportunity (“It is with our deepest regrets, but they leave us no other choice.”, of course). Remember that the same pack of cards remains on the poker table: only the Dealer has changed.
    Hopefully Gates can convince his neo-neocon Boss — who is much the same as the old Boss wrt Afghanistan — of the futility of chasing the Taliban across a poor, rugged Fourth World country that is larger than Iraq; that has fewer (and less educated) people “led” by an ineffective puppet government with little or no control outside of its own capital; and that has poor communications and transportation infrastructure to support conventional warfare. When it comes to modern warfighting, ah, democratic nation-building, Afghanistan sure ain’t Iraq: it’s worse.
    Aircraft, armed UAVs, and cruise missiles may go where ground forces cannot, but they will be no more effective in winning hearts and minds than Israel’s periodic police actions against the Palestinians. If Obama sends in more troops and orders more bombing missions in Afghanistan, will it improve the hopes of the collateral dead for a better life?
    From the Veterans for Common Sense article, Bush’s Afghanistan War Becomes Obama’s War: Fearing Another Quagmire in Afghanistan:

    Ever since the Bush administration diverted its attention — and resources — to the war in Iraq from the war in Afghanistan, military planners and foreign policy experts have bemoaned the dearth of troops to keep that country from sliding back into Taliban control. And in that time, the insurgency blossomed, as Taliban militants took advantage of huge swaths of territory, particularly in the south, that NATO troops weren’t able to fill.
    Enter Mr. Obama. During the campaign he promised to send two additional brigades — 7,000 troops — to Afghanistan. During the transition, military planners started talking about adding as many as 30,000 troops. And within days of taking office, Mr. Obama announced the appointment of Richard Holbrooke, architect of the Balkan peace accords, to execute a new Afghanistan policy.
    But even as Mr. Obama’s military planners prepare for the first wave of the new Afghanistan “surge,” there is growing debate, including among those who agree with the plan to send more troops, about whether — or how — the troops can accomplish their mission, and just what the mission is.

    Indeed, what is the mission, how much will it cost, and when will it end?
    If the war in Afghanistan, now in it’s seventh year, is pursued vigorously (or ignorantly) enough, it may just end up in Pakistan, with dozens or hundreds of very real missile-launched nuclear weapons not far away in India, China, and Russia.
    Are we still after Osama bin Laden? We’ve spent thousands of American lives — not to mention tens of thousands of Afghani and Iraqi lives — already. How much more blood and money can we afford?
    If it’s an extension of the (other) everlasting war against drugs, it may be much cheaper to just let the troops simply stay home.
    No more credit: we want to see the menu and the prices before we get served the White House special.

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