Obama visits Afghanistan as "Commander in Chief." Scott Horsley was there for the whole trip. He gives us the "highlights." Here's a bit of his nonsense coverage:
The President went into that meeting [with Karzai] determined to press the Afghan president on what he and his government need to do to match up with the military effort that the US [is] making on the ground here. Steps like rooting out corruption. Steps like doing more to root out the narco-traffickers. [..] The President was accompanied on this trip by General Jim Jones, his national security advisor who outlined what some of the goals were for the US and here on the ground he met with Gen. McChrystal  now of course the President can talk with Gen. McChrystal via video conference and he gets weekly updates on how the US is doing with all its various efforts here in Afghanistan but this was a chance to get some on the ground intelligence and to meet face to face, both with Gen. McChrystal and with Michael Eikenberry, the US Ambassador.  Gen. Jones says there are signs of progress here in Afghanistan, he's calling this a strategic moment [It's been six months since Jones last used that phrase, so now it's good for another go]. The battle for Kandahar will be very telling. That's what Gen. McChrystal has said will be the test for whether the strategy that President Obama has put in place is working here in Afghanistan. Kandahar is of course the city where the Taliban was born, there is still a good deal of Taliban sympathy in Kandahar and it's likely to be a bigger battle than the fight for Marjah was earlier this winter.As cartoonish as this all seems from afar, it's oddly reverberant with the opening chapter, "Loomings," of Moby Dick. Ishmael is explaining his allure for going to sea as a sailor, in which position "head winds are more prevalent than winds from astern" (and winds from Horsley's nether parts)
so for the most part, the Commodore on the quarter-deck gets his atmosphere second hand from from the sailors on the forecastle. He thinks he breathes it first; but not so. In much the same way do the commonalty lead their leaders in many other things, at the same time as their leaders little suspect it.Ishmael imagines his whaling story as "a brief interlude and solo between more extensive performances" such as a "grand contested election for the presidency of the united states" and "Bloody battle in Afghanistan."
The first is an allusion to the unusual campaign of 1840 where Harrison campaigned to the refrain of "Tippecanoe and Tyler too" thereby earning a 4 to 1 majority. The second is a reference to the Khoord Kabul revolt of 1841 where the Afghans killed all the officers of the British occupying army and then massacred all their retreating troops.
As Brendan Cooney noted in a Counterpunch article titled, Remember the Pequod, eight years ago, Moby Dick should be read as a cautionary tale against foolish chases. The question still rubs, now more than then: is the war in Afghanistan a (preemptive?) retaliatory venture or a commercial whaling expedition? Is it payback for Al Qaeda or a strategic foothold in the resource rich middle east? I don't know. Like most Americans, I think, I'm at sea as to why we're on the ground over there.