October 25, 2009

Into Oblivion

The Afghanistan fixation continues to present a war without the war. The stories that circulate are of troop-level debates, comparative national investments in the hopelessness enterprise of "defeating" insurgency; dreams of "decapitating" the Taliban, as if it were an organism instead of a functioning organization. The death of it all awash in the lavish language of "Hellfire," "Predator," "human terrain."

There is, sometimes, the tough lament for, but no pictures allowed of, the Marines sacrificing their ultimate safety and their comrades for a "policy," for a choice of method. It will matter less that it is for the sake of people sleeping in a hillside house that are quite innocent of whatever it is that is to be blown apart. The people themselves, so remote, remain in the imaginary more or less a mysterious, likely barbaric remnant; mere data in homeland calculations or the crude anthropology that helps determine targets.

There is, in incremental obscurity, Pakistan quietly emerging as the backdrop for the elevated and distant strategic conversations about air-power and force, which themselves dovetail with the truth of CIA contractors operating drones, the tactical function of which has become nothing more, and nothing less, than carrying out Pakistani or Afghanistan assassination requests. The blood price of doing business.

The notions of legality are dissolved and as the slow build up "on the ground" becomes ever more groundless, and at least one steps away from another Richard Holbrooke fantasy, our plot of death unrolls: unstoppable, unthinkable, inexorable in its tragic cadence.

Photographs: Fazal Sheikh (from The Victor Weeps)