The US War in Afghanistan: Goals, Future, and Alternatives

by Joseph Gerson

International Afghanistan Congress
Hanover, Germany
June 7-8, 2008

I want to begin by thanking Reiner Braun and the other organizers of this conference for the opportunity to be a part of this important conference, and to be learning from my European and Afghan friends. I have been asked to give a brief and sober report about perspectives from the U.S. peace movement, and I will do my best to fulfill this expectation.

Recent Developments

First, let me review some recent developments, some of which you may not have heard or read about.

This past November, the U.S. National Security Council concluded that U.S. goals for the Afghanistan War were not being met, and that despite battlefield victories, the overall situation in Afghanistan was deteriorating. That report highlighted the “Taliban’s unchallenged expansion into new territory”, the increasing cultivation of opium poppies, and President Karzai’s weakness.” More recently, Director of. National Intelligence McConnell described the situation as “deteriorating,” and he warned that “Taliban forces expanded their operations into previously peaceful areas of the west and around Kabul.”[1]

Three thousand more U.S. Marines have been deployed to southern Afghanistan.

The U.S. Marine Corps decided last week not to bring criminal charges against the commanding officers of a unit responsible for the shooting deaths of up to nineteen civilians in northeastern Afghanistan

NATO Sec. Gen. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, warned that Afghanistan is a test of NATO’s resolve, saying that “It is Europe’s Iraq.” Friends, I don’t think any of you want to be fighting a European Iraq war.

Since the new government came to power in Afghanistan, the number of Taliban raids launched from Pakistan has doubled. As the New York Times reported, “Pakistani officials are making it increasingly clear that they have no interest in stopping cross-border attacks…into Afghanistan, prompting a new level of frustration from Americans who see the infiltration as a crucial strategic priority in the war in Afghanistan.” Worse, from Barack Obama to the Washington Post and the right-wing Heritage Foundation, there are calls to “Try Pakistan First,” meaning to go to war in and against Pakistan.[2]

It turns out that the prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, where U.S. forces have tortured prisoners, is no longer large enough to accommodate the growing number of Afghan prisoners. Sixty million dollars has been allocated to build additional U.S. military prison in Pakistan.

Continued . . .

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