Bad and Getting Worse
By BRIAN CLOUGHLEY | Counterpunch, June 27, 2008
Can anyone state exactly why foreign troops are fighting in Afghanistan? What is the collective aim, the specific mission, the ultimate objective, of the 60,000 soldiers there? I ask this because as I write the total of US deaths in Afghanistan “and region” is over 450, and news has come in of the killing of more British and American soldiers. And I wonder what all of them have died for.
There are three separate foreign military organizations in Afghanistan, and they conduct operations entirely differently. The International Security and Assistance Force, the NATO countries’ military contingents, and the independent US forces have no single overall headquarters ; they have entirely unrelated Rules of Engagement (a preposterous and almost unbelievable situation) ; and do not have a combined mission statement. If a young captain at any military college in the world were told to produce a planning paper for direction of military operations in a foreign country and came up with such a harebrained cockamamie muddle he would be laughed at and sent packing.
The situation in Afghanistan is bad and getting worse, but before sketching the history of foreign military failure in that harsh and barbaric country it should be noted that its eastern neighbor, Pakistan, remains host to the largest number of refugees existing in any one country in our horrible world. There is no other nation that has accepted so many displaced people for so long – or has received less international gratitude for its generosity to foreign exiles. There has been attentive care, of course, from the saintly UN High Commission for Refugees whose staff around the world rarely receive the recognition they deserve. But Pakistan has not received any acknowledgment, either, for its hosting of millions of Afghans, some of whom are intent on wrecking the country that has given them haven.