According to a couple different news stories, one in the New York Times, recent setbacks in Afghanistan have put a "cloud" over the Administration's timetable for withdrawal of troops in that country. Big surprise. :) I remember when they created that timetable; it seemed at the time that few people paid much attention to the phrase, "depending upon conditions on the ground". Most folks seemed to focus on the announcement that we would begin serious troop withdrawals in July of 2011. I also remember when then Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld stated that "major combat has ended in Afghanistan". That was in 2003. Will we ever stop trusting these politicians? Apparently they either are extremely short-sighted, incompetent, or out-right liars.
It seems to me the chances are good that we will not be leaving Afghanistan next year, or even in 2012. If by some chance we do leave, I suspect that we'll simply "invade" another country, perhaps Pakistan, or some other -stan in Central Asia, or maybe Iran. We don't, of course, technically "invade" any country (except Iraq); instead, we are invited in by some corrupt puppet government or "government-in-exile", thus it all seems above board. The reason for our 700+ overseas military bases once was the threat of worldwide communism; now it is worldwide terrorism. Or so the story goes.
I agree with those who believed that communism (from certain quarters, at least) was a threat, and I believe that terrorism (from certain quarters) is now a threat. But terrorists usually do not engage in conventional warfare, as did the communists in, say, Korea. Terrorism is best handled by intelligence agencies and law enforcement. If you disagree with that premise, consider this: if we are to combat terrorism with conventional military forces, then those forces will have to remain forever in countries where terrorism is found. If they don't, what happens when we leave? The terrorists simply will come out of the woodwork and pick up where they left off; we will never kill or capture all terrorists.
If one takes a serious look at human history, the conclusion reached regarding war almost certainly has to be that the State loves (or those that rule love) that activity. War provides certain advantages to rulers: common people are manipulated more easily if they have a common enemy; there is the opportunity to obtain and/or secure natural resources; if the rulers have a vested interest in defense industries, then there is the opportunity to make a lot of money; and there is the opportunity to obtain and/or secure transportation routes for resources such as natural gas and oil. [Our interest in Afghanistan seriously began years ago when Big Oil wanted right-of-way for a natural gas/oil pipeline across most of the country.]
A long time ago, Machiavelli refined the concept of "perpetual war" in order to control the masses and gain resources. I don't think much has changed regarding War and the State since that time.
At the risk of sounding like a "conspiracy theorist", I don't believe that the national politicians in DC "rule" this country. I also don't believe that the People "rule" this country. Instead, we are ruled by multi-national, mega corporations...Crony Capitalists (not genuine Capitalists). [Crony Capitalists are more like Fascists...they are married to the State.] Most importantly, it's NOT a conspiracy. It's right out in the open for all to see. If you haven't seen it, then apparently you're not looking very hard.
So what can we do to correct the situation? Somehow we have to figure out a way to elect people to office who will not become unduly influenced or controlled by the Corporatocracy. How do we do that? Good question. Perhaps a start would be to demand term limits and genuine campaign finance reform. A Constitutional Amendment may be required. But how do we demand anything? I think different forms of boycotting may be the answer. For example, boycott incumbents of both political parties. Better yet, boycott the parties themselves. Why keep electing and re-electing the politicians who have brought us to this point? It makes no sense. We could boycott elections, but I doubt that will ever happen. Because we really do have taxation without true representation, we could stop paying taxes...but most likely that will never happen, at least, not within my lifetime. I'm open to other suggestions.
I don't claim to know the solution, but I believe that if we don't do something decisive, then this country...We the People as sovereigns...are doomed in terms of a free society. Alexis de Tocqueville warned us in the 1800s of what he termed "soft despotism". Google his name and that term, and see what you think.