“The USA is bogged down half a world away in the legendary “Graveyard of Empires” – a country the size of Texas; with mountains like Colorado and deserts like California; landlocked in the center of Eurasia; fighting tribesmen who could not be tamed by the Macedonian, British, or Soviet military occupations – giving itself another “Vietnam,” when at the end of the day there is no reason to believe this war could ever be any more successful than that one. Meanwhile, our only actual enemies laugh at America’s wanton self-destruction.” – Scott Horton, FOOL’S ERRAND: Time To End the War in Afghanistan, Chapter 2, page #95, 1st Edition, Copyright 2017 by Scott Horton, The Libertarian Institute
In this masterful academic work of art, author Scott Horton rends the veil of pro-war propaganda and relative journalistic silence regarding what is now the longest war in American history – the ‘war on terror’ as waged in Afghanistan by the American military and supporting forces. Host of ‘The Scott Horton Show,’ and long-time contributor at both ‘The Libertarian Institute,’ & ‘Anti-War.com;’ Horton has been immersing himself in the issues and inner-workings of foreign policy and the subject matter of American military action for many years now. His latest book, ‘FOOL’S ERRAND,’ is an exceedingly well-researched and astute case study on the American war in Afghanistan – as well as in impassioned (albeit intellectual) plea to the American public to shake off their indifference to the horrific crime being carried out against the people of Afghanistan by the U.S. government in our names as Americans. Probably not since former CIA Osama bin Laden Unit Director Michael Scheuer anonymously published his book ‘Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror,’ has there been such a comprehensive expose of the American government’s folly and fraud in pursuing the foolishness of long-term military occupation in this “pivot area” of global hegemony. Indeed, FOOL’S ERRAND will no doubt be the most important book on American foreign policy and military action you’ll read this year – no matter with what perspective you begin. As the reader continues on in this book, the smokescreens and halls of mirrors with which the majority of our Western media has deluged us since the beginning – will begin slowly unraveling to reveal that we have been thoroughly ‘neo-conned’ and otherwise misinformed as to both the nature and prosecution of American military action in Afghanistan. Be ready to have you illusions shattered by cold hard facts and inconvenient truths. Be ready for Horton to throw you a rope that will help pull your understanding of this foreign conflict out of the ‘fog of war’ that is so conveniently generated by a plethora of interested parties; from the industrial military complex and international financiers, to self-interested career politicians and ambitious military officers, and even the theologies of some religious people who feed into all the jingoistic war-fever – FOOL’S ERRAND is a healthy dose of truth and reasonable perspective that will leave you wondering just how the hell the criminals in D.C. have been and are continuing to get away with waging such an irresponsible and fool-hardy military adventure for so painfully and horrifically long. Not to be cast as such a lone voice in the wilderness though, Horton has already received a lot of recognition and praise for his work in FOOL’S ERRAND – even robustly lauded by such subject matter experts as; CIA/DIA Officer Philip Giraldi, US Army JAG Maj. Todd Pierce, US Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, US Army Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis, USAF Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, USMC Capt. Matthew Hoh, former US Congressman & 3-time POTUS candidate Dr. Ron Paul, Harvard Univ. Intl. Affairs Prof. Stephen M. Walt, US Foreign Service employee Peter Van Buren, Irish journalist and Financial Times Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn, and US Military Analyst & Pentagon Papers whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg. The votes are in, and FOOL’S ERRAND is the book you need to read.
Did you know that the actual number of Al Qaeda during and immediately after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 were only in the hundreds, that CIA Director Leon Panetta admitted in 2010 that there were only between 50 and 100 living Al Qaeda remaining in Afghanistan, and that the U.S. government had the opportunity to finish the war early on in Tora Bora but seemingly willingly passed on the chance to capture bin Laden and wipe out his few remaining loyalists in December of 2001? Did you know the U.S. government was given multiple ample opportunities early in the Afghan war to cooperate with the Taliban and employ them to extinguish the Al Qaeda cancer in their territory, but D.C. chose rather to conflate the Taliban with Al Qaeda and needlessly make the Taliban our enemies in war as well? Did you know that everyone from terrorism experts in academia (Robert Pape) and medical science to ‘insider’ military analysts – have confirmed the primary driving force of anti-American sentiment in Afghanistan, the greater Middle East, and among terrorists who have attempted and carried out attacks within the United States – is the unwelcome presence of military bases and personnel on the Arabian Peninsula. Of course; that’s not to discount the American financial and military support for the cruel puppet regimes our CIA & military have overthrown democratically-elected governments to set up and prop up, crippling military sanctions that cause untold amounts of suffering on children and innocent populations, American support for the Israeli right-wing fascist Likud Party’s oppression and abuse of Palestinians, – or, other civilian casualties that have continuously added to the American killing-machine’s body count at wedding parties and Doctors Without Borders Hospitals and such… Did you know that multiple US military brass have resigned their positions in a crisis of conscience over the irresponsible and disastrous prosecution of the war in Afghanistan, that the ‘inked finger Afghan elections’ of 2004 were basically a farce and publicity stunt, or that roughly only about a dozen of almost 800 detainees in Guantanamo Bay at one time were thought to be affiliated w/ Al Qaeda in any way? Yet, there are still hundreds of men suffering imprisonment w/o enough evidence to charge them with anything and the US government still won’t release them (ever) because those probably-innocent individuals have now been so radicalized against America and Americans as a result of their torture and punishment at the hands of the American military and government? Did you know that American foreign policy authorities have had a long history of turning blind eyes, deaf ears, and indifferent countenance to the inhumane consequences of our sanctions against Middle Eastern countries, even being quoted as saying that a half million child deaths due to deprivation American sanctions caused is “worth it” (Secy. of State Madeline Albright), and that Pentagon officials have knowingly willingly used brave young well-meaning boots-on-the-ground as ‘bullet-catchers’ to draw fire from potential insurgents?
The long-term costs of the war in Afghanistan continue to add up exponentially, as this longest of wars drags atrociously on and on and on and on and on. Most credible estimates are that Afghanistan has now cost the American taxpayer over $1 trillion; significantly more than was even allotted for the reconstruction of Western Europe under the Marshall Plan following World War II. Somewhere in the neighborhood of another 2,400 Americans have died in Afghanistan – almost as many as died in the 9/11 attacks; and around 17,000 more have been wounded. And almost a quarter-million military service veterans of both Iraq & Afghanistan combined have been diagnosed w/ Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Social indicators among the military indicate increased stress in the form of heightened rates of substance abuse, domestic violence, divorce, medical needs, mental health support, suicide, etc. Those are the direct costs we can measure in hard numbers; but don’t barely begin to tell the true horrors the war in Afghanistan and broader ‘war on terror’ has brought via the horrific loss of civil liberties by Americans in our own country, or the counter-productive nature of ‘insurgent math’ that has bred terrorists out of otherwise ‘normal’ people to carry out acts of horrific violence even right back here on American soil. Those are subjects worthy of their own books.
From the First Qana Massacre to the Durand Line, Scott Horton will educate you on the war in Afghanistan, the ‘Global War On Terror,’ Post-WWII & Cold War American global military hegemony, and the economics of the ‘war state’ in such a way that it will finally make infinitely more sense than when you try to understand it from the perspective of someone putting together a picture from the rhetoric of politicians, hyperbole of the deep state war hawks, and propaganda of the mainstream corporate media. With a firm grasp on the history of the CIA with the Afghan Mujahideen, the complexities of Afghan internal politics and the ancient Pashtunwali code, the misdirection and corruption of the American-Afghan governments’ relationships, Salem-witch-hunt-esque nature of the cooperation on the ground between American officers and competitive Afghan tribal leader mafioso types, and a foot planted firmly in the realities of the nature of war as giddy engagements for warmongering political power personalities but extremely bad and undesirable to the rest of us on Earth; Scott Horton has written an undeniable and indispensable indictment of the war in Afghanistan in FOOL’S ERRAND. America’s world-wide military hubris has become so convoluted in the post-World War era, that we even often find the U.S. government aiding and abetting both sides of numerous military conflicts and violent uprisings going on all around the globe (think John McCain, Al Nusra Front, Al Qaeda, ISIS, Bashar Al Assad, & the Russians in Syria – for recent example). From Jimmy Carter and before, Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, Bush Jr., Obama, and even now Trump; in regards to American foreign policy since World War II and the Cold War, it might be most accurate to say that America gained the whole world but lost our own soul. And it seems that in Afghanistan, the American policy has for almost 2 decades now been; ‘the beatings will continue until morale improves.’ The education Horton offers in his book will enlighten you why terms such as ‘blowback’ and ‘backdraft’ should be part of your lexicon when discussing the Afghan war. Horton sums up our the American government’s misguided adventures in Afghanistan well by saying:
“Only the U.S. government, manipulated into over-reacting – really, given an opportunity to take advantage of a horrible situation – could accomplish this tiny group of terrorists’ seemingly impossible goals. These included ending American dominance of the Middle East through imperial overstretch and self-destruction, along with the further radicalization of the region, destabilization of U.S.-supported dictatorships and a vast increase in the terrorists’ own power and influence over the future. By attacking New York and Washington, Al Qaeda succeeded in making America, in the words of ex-CIA analyst Scheuer, its “indispensable ally” in their scheme.”
Considering how well the Bush Administration and warmongers in D.C. have played into bin Laden’s stated plans and goals of goading America into over-extension, is it any wonder why such conscientious objectors as Dept. of State official USMC Capt. Matthew Hoh would publicly release a resignation letter – citing that what the American government was doing in Afghanistan constituted “an occupation force against which the insurgency is justified (Lt. Gen. Karl W. Eickenberry agreed).” The American government took bin Laden’s bait, and the longer our military occupies Afghanistan – the better it serves to benefit bin Laden’s and his ilk and their diabolical schemes. At the time of the publication of FOOL’S ERRAND, and of this book review; there are now just as many if not more enemies we’ve created in Afghanistan, controlling more territory in the country – than even when American forces first invaded the country almost 2 decades ago. The American government’s wrong-headed approach to dealing with our Al Qaeda attackers in Afghanistan has only served to benefit the power-elites of D.C. at home, the interests of radical Islamic jihadist terrorism abroad, and multiplied more enemies for us than we have killed or can kill. Whatever few enemy terror targets we may have first been justified in seeking justice against at the outset; there is absolutely no moral, ethical, lawful, strategic, economic, or humanitarian justification left for this continued criminal military occupation.
* From a more personal perspective:
I was a young lower-enlisted soldier who actually went to the Kunar Province of Afghanistan on my first deployment in the 173rd Airborne 2007-08. Some of the soldiers in our unit appeared in the Oscar-nominated documentary, RESTREPO, and the sequel, KORENGAL; as well as being the subjects of various publications by Vanity Fair, ABC, Sebastian Junger, and the late Tim Hetherington. With a ‘Fusion’ Co. embedded in the 2/503rd Inf., I did everything from numerous mounted patrols to manning fire bases and guarding friendly local people and facilities. I got to see this war for myself up close and personal and in real time for well over a year. I learned quite a bit of the Pashtun language, and I made what I considered to be friends of many of the local nationals I met along the way. During this experience; I became a combat veteran, witnessed my fill of violence and bloodshed, and realized that there had to be a better answer than what I was seeing before my eyes on the ground there. I have personally been on mission in the Korengal, driven and flown all over that region of the Hindu-Kush, and spent more time than I cared to staring at the sides of mountains through NVG’s (night vision goggles) while just waiting for a sniper to take a shot. I’ve known some of the American service-members who died there, and shared dinner and dancing with some of the locals there who in years later would have some of their village’s children killed by NATO forces – turning them from friends into insurgents in one flail swoop of indiscriminate American firepower. I’ve watched respectable young brave soldiers turn into cold angry and hate-filled xenophobes under the dehumanizing conditions of war, watched as some of the most asinine displays of people with a death-wish and financially wasteful events have played out, witnessed the frustration and hopelessness of families struggling to live in a war zone, brought the war back home with me in what seems to be a life-long struggle now w/ chronic severe PTSD – and what I have to say is simply to echo what was so wisely articulated by former WWII Supreme Allied Commander & 34th President of the United States, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower… “I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its’ brutality, its’ futility, its’ stupidity.”
I remember after my medical retirement from active duty, sitting on the couch watching media coverage of the American presidential primaries in 2011, and hearing someone on TV say that veterans could not support Ron Paul – and certainly not actual combat veterans who were in a position to be so personally keen to the stakes in the wars. Bloviating charlatan Dick Morris even went so far as to say that no true patriot could possibly support Ron Paul. Other people in the corporate msm (and then regurgitated by the listening public) were quick to unthinkingly parrot a variation of the phrase, “I like Ron Paul, except on foreign policy.” Well; I liked Ron Paul, ESPECIALLY on foreign policy; and I quickly found the grassroots movement ‘Combat Veterans for Ron Paul’ and pitched in to help the 2012 campaign the best that I could, having already voted for Ron Paul from Jalalabad, Afghanistan in the Republican Primary in 2008. For years, I couldn’t understand why my fellow Americans didn’t see what I saw, or seemed not to be able to connect the dots the way I had done. I had read Osama bin Laden’s words about wishing to draw the American military empire into a long grueling conflict that would bankrupt our treasury and tax our morale, and I didn’t understand why America hadn’t seemed to learn its’ lesson from Vietnam; but Ron Paul heroically spoke the truth – even having the courage to double down on the truth when ridiculous Rudy Giuliani challenged Paul during a Republican presidential primary debate, with an emotional appeal to unfairly portray Paul as insensitive to the victims of 9/11. When Paul then exhibited rare courage of a man w/ principles in politics by rebutting Guliani and offering to school him on the facts, I remember literally coming out of my seat on the couch in front of the TV and cheering for Paul; FINALLY, somebody w/ a platform to speak truth to the power of the corrupt Washington war machine was using his voice to attempt exposing the lies and stiffening his backbone for what’s truly the right thing regarding the wars! For that alone, Ron Paul will always have my respect, admiration, and support. If only America had listened then… I later learned that some people in my own family had broken with their usual Republican Party voting habits to vote for Barack Obama in 2008 because he had run against the wars as well, and they were of course duped as well by the lies of Obama’s empty “hope & change.” Obama got both of the two terms possible to a POTUS, and here we are with the next POTUS – still militarily occupying Afghanistan, still unlawfully holding prisoners in places like Guantanamo Bay, and now even having a torturous war criminal (Gina Haspel) appointed to lead the murderous CIA. Bloodthirsty warmongering authoritarian jingoists like John Bolton, William (Bill) Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, John Hagee, Sean Hannity, Lindsey Graham, and the increasingly bloodthirsty fascist christian right-wing (infinitely more dangerous to our freedoms than Islamo-fascists overseas) are still whipping up support for more bloodletting on their war-drums, Fuhrer Trump is still dropping bombs, the military industrial complex is still profiteering off the blood of American soldiers and innocent foreigners, and the beat goes on.
One of the most horrific events in Afghanistan to my relevance, is the 2011 NATO helicopter killings of 9 Afghan children from the village of Nanglam who were out collecting firewood. I spent the first 6 months of my deployment to Afghanistan at Camp Blessing in Nanglam, protecting those children, forging friendships with the adult workers, and building a rapport with the villagers; all for what? Within a few years of my leaving, the whole village would switch over to side w/ the insurgency following the murders of their children by our combat forces – and I can’t blame them! After all, these simple mountain people, religious fundamentalists with their own culture identity, reminded me so very much of the people I grew up with and around in Appalachian Kentucky. I bonded with them, they trusted me, and I trusted them – and the military forces with which I’m affiliated then later visited on them the most heinous and cruel sufferings I could ever imagine parents and families having to endure. I’ll say it for all those burned and bloodied little brown muslim kids who can’t say it for themselves from their cold graves, all those innocent children who died brutally and horrifically at the hands of crusading despots, all those young future hopefuls for a better world whose lives so many Americans don’t think to value at all in their indifference to American war crimes; Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Hussein Obama, & Donald J. Trump – FUCK YOU! If there should be such a place as an eternal fiery torturous Hell, you deserve to suffer your infinite sentence in it.
Is it time to end the war in Afghanistan? Well, sort of – we really passed that point a long time ago – it’s been time to end the war in Afghanistan for many years now, and it’s time to end the ‘war on terror’ abroad and dismantle the global military empire. It’s not just time to end the war in Afghanistan; it’s time to end the United States government’s reign of terror across the planet; it’s time to liberate the world from the perpetual warfare state; it’s time to end the era of Keynesian central banking cartels; it’s time to harness the power of the internet and technology to expose war crimes and disinfect the world from the plight of authoritarian statism and its’ violent extremist purveyors; it’s time to stop the apocalyptic Christian, Jewish, & Muslim radicals (mirror images of one another) from dragging the rest of humankind and civilization into their self-fulfilling prophecies of Armageddon and total global war; it’s time for cooler heads and softer hearts to make our voices heard, and push back against the Doomsday cult of the warfare state. Yes, it is most certainly time to end the war in Afghanistan – as reading Scott Horton’s gravely vital book will prove to you.
I’m ready to use my voice to stop the madness… are you? I recently posted a polling question on my personal facebook profile as to whether or not you believe American military forces have now occupied Afghanistan for too long… the result being that every single respondent voted that the war in Afghanistan has already gone on too long. I’m not the only one – the American people are figuring this out. And if you should see Scott Horton on his soapbox preaching about how we must end the war in Afghanistan, you can assume I’m raising my voice in affirmation from my place planted squarely in the ‘”Amen!” corner.’ As a combat veteran of the war in Afghanistan, I give Scott Horton’s book, FOOL’S ERRAND, a whole-hearted and full-throated endorsement. Read it and learn; read it and weep; raed it and get to work stopping the war machine.
– Adam G. “Brick” House is an Afghanistan war veteran and former licensed minister (UPCI), who has become an outspoken skeptic, peace advocate, and involved himself in many other issues which he believes affect the individual freedoms of the people whose inalienable rights he took an oath to defend. He currently resides in Texas, where he is recovering from PTSD, enjoys the therapeutic hobbies of training Muay Thai, playing drums, gardening, writing, and other forms of artistic expression \m/