Posts Tagged ‘Afghan war’

Bipartisan Stupidity on Afghanistan

July 7, 2010

Tedd Rall, Information Clearing House, July 7, 2010

NEW YORK – As I pack for my return trip to Afghanistan next month, many people are asking me: Why are we losing? What should we do there?

The short answer is simple: Afghan resistance forces live there. We don’t. Sooner or later, U.S. troops will depart. All the Afghan resistance has to do is wear us down and wait us out. As I have pointed out before, no nation has successfully invaded and occupied any other nation since the 19th century. All occupations ultimately fail.

For those who prefer their punditry longwinded, here’s a longer answer.

Even taking historical precedent into account, America’s post-9/11 occupation of Afghanistan–its longest war ever–has been notably disastrous. Wonder why? Everything you need to know was contained in this week’s war of words between the chairmen of the two major political parties.

Continues >>

Advertisements

Don’t Let the McChrystal Frenzy Obscure the Dirty Truth About Afghanistan

June 23, 2010

While we’ll be treated to plenty of blather about the McChrystal incident, the most important part of the story is largely being ignored by the corporate media.

Joshua Holland, AlterNet, June 23, 2010

US commander in Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal speaks during a press briefing with White House spokesman Robert Gibbs (rear) at the White House in Washington, DC. McChrystal said Monday there was intelligence Iran was guilty of some “malign” activity in the country, but added that most of its role was legitimate.

It should come as no surprise that General Stanley McChrystal’s return to Washington to explain a series of derogatory comments he and his staff made about the White House has ignited a media frenzy.

Continues >>

Evidence Mounts NATO Report Lied on Afghan Civilian Killings

March 13, 2010

Rear Admiral Smith Admits No Evidence of Claimed ‘Firefight’

by Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com,  March 12, 2010

The February 12 night raid against a house party in Afghanistan’s Paktia Province remains shrouded in mystery, but NATO’s official story appears to be crumbling as even NATO officials concede that the claims made were not strictly true.

NATO’s official statement claimed at the time that the raid on the home led to a “fire fight” against “several insurgents” who were killed, before NATO made a “gruesome discovery” of bound and gagged bodies in a nearby room.

NATO is conceding now that all of the slain people were civilians killed in the raid. NATO communications direct Rear Admiral Greg Smith also admitted that they had no real evidence that the men slain at the home had ever fired a shot against the NATO forces.

Witnesses at the site reported that one of the people in the compound, a local policeman, shouted “don’t fire, we work for the government” before being gunned down by the invading forces.

Rear Admiral Smith defended the killing of the policeman, however, saying “if you have got an individual stepping out of a compound, and if your assault force is there, that is often the trigger to neutralise (read: kill) the individual. You don’t have to be fired upon to fire back.

Since the incident, all those detained by NATO have been released without charges. In addition, the US has reportedly paid $2,000 to the family for each of the civilians killed in the attack.

Afghanistan Is the War Obama Always Wanted

December 2, 2009

Earl Ofari Hutchinson, The Huffington Post, Dec 1, 2009

Only the most hopelessly naïve, star struck or a true believer could have ever thought that President Obama would not dump massive numbers of fresh troops into Afghanistan the first chance he got. He said or strongly inferred that escalation of the Afghan war was in his cards on two occasions as a presidential candidate, and once before he became a presidential candidate. He strongly inferred he’d fight in Afghanistan in his anti-Iraq war, Bush bashing speech at Chicago’s Federal Plaza on October 2, 2002. The speech burnished his credentials as a war opponent and eventually established him as a political comer on the national scene.

Continues >>

Oppose Obama’s escalation of the Afghan-Pakistan war! Withdraw all troops now!

December 2, 2009

World Socialist Web Site editorial board,

wsws.org, Dec 2, 2009

Obama’s speech last night, which packaged the deployment of an additional 30,000 US troops to Afghanistan as the prelude to withdrawal, was a cynical exercise in evasion, double-talk and falsification.

The new deployment is a major escalation of an unpopular war that will lead to the deaths of countless thousands of Afghanis and Pakistanis and a significant rise in US casualties. Indeed, many of the West Point cadets who were assembled to listen to the president’s speech will be sent to Afghanistan to fight in a war that the majority of Americans oppose.

Continues >>

A troop surge can only magnify the crime against Afghanistan

December 1, 2009

If Barack Obama heralds an escalation of the war, he will betray his own message of hope and deepen my people’s pain

Malalai Joya, The Guardian/UK, Nov 30, 2009

After months of waiting, President Obama is about to announce the new US strategy for Afghanistan. His speech may be long awaited, but few are expecting any surprise: it seems clear he will herald a major escalation of the war. In doing so he will be making something worse than a mistake. It is a continuation of a war crime against the suffering people of my country.

I have said before that by installing warlords and drug traffickers in power in Kabul, the US and Nato have pushed us from the frying pan to the fire. Now Obama is pouring fuel on these flames, and this week’s announcement of upwards of 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan will have tragic consequences.

Already this year we have seen the impact of an increase in troops occupying Afghanistan: more violence, and more civilian deaths. My people, the poor of Afghanistan who have known only war and the domination of fundamentalism, are today squashed between two enemies: the US/Nato occupation forces on one hand and warlords and the Taliban on the other.

While we want the withdrawal of one enemy, we don’t believe it is a matter of choosing between two evils. There is an alternative: the democratic-minded parties and intellectuals are our hope for the future of Afghanistan.

It will not be easy, but if we have a little bit of peace we will be better able to fight our own internal enemies – Afghans know what to do with our destiny. We are not a backward people, and we are capable of fighting for democracy, human and women’s rights in Afghanistan. In fact the only way these values will be achieved is if we struggle for them and win them ourselves.

After eight years of war, the situation is as bad as ever for ordinary Afghans, and women in particular. The reality is that only the drug traffickers and warlords have been helped under this corrupt and illegitimate Karzai government. Karzai’s promises of reform are laughable. His own vice-president is the notorious warlord Fahim, whom Brad Adams of Human Rights Watch describes as “one of the most notorious warlords in the country, with the blood of many Afghans on his hands”.

Transparency International reports that this regime is the second most corrupt in the world. The UN Development Programme reports Afghanistan is second last – 181st out of 182 countries – in terms of human development. That is why we no longer want this kind of “help” from the west.

Like many around the world, I am wondering what kind of “peace” prize can be awarded to a leader who continues the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and starts a new war in Pakistan, all while supporting Israel?

Throughout my recent tour of the US, I had the chance to meet many military families and veterans who are working to put an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They understand that it is not a case of a “bad war” and a “good war” – there is no difference, war is war.

Members of Iraq Veterans Against War even accompanied me to meet members of Congress in Washington DC. Together we tried to explain the terrible human cost of this war, in terms of Afghan, US and Nato lives. Unfortunately, only a few representatives really offered their support to our struggle for peace.

While the government was not responsive, the people of the US did offer me their support. And polls confirm that the US public wants peace, not an escalated war. Many also want Obama to hold Bush and his administration to account for war crimes. Everywhere I spoke, people responded strongly when I said that if Obama really wanted peace he would first of all try to prosecute Bush and have him tried before the international criminal court. Replacing Bush’s man in the Pentagon, Robert Gates, would have been a good start – but Obama chose not to.

Unfortunately, the UK government shamefully follows the path of the US in Afghanistan. Even though opinion polls show that more than 70% of the population is against the war, Gordon Brown has announced the deployment of more UK troops. It is sad that more taxpayers’ money will be wasted on this war, while Britain’s poor continue to suffer from a lack of basic services.

The UK government has also tried to silence dissent, for instance by arresting Joe Glenton, a British soldier who has refused to return to Afghanistan. I had a chance to meet Glenton when I was in London last summer, and together we spoke out against the war. My message to him is that, in times of great injustice, it is sometimes better to go to jail than be part of committing war crimes.

Facing a difficult choice, Glenton made a courageous decision, while Obama and Brown have chosen to follow the Bush administration. Instead of hope and change, in foreign policy Obama is delivering more of the same. But I still have hope because, as our history teaches, the people of Afghanistan will never accept occupation.

Matthew Hoh Speaks Grim Truth To Power

November 30, 2009

Roger Morris and George Kenney, The Huffington Post, Nov 27, 2009

The rare resignation on principle is always telling in American government. When Matthew Hoh recently left the State Department — a Marine Captain in Iraq who became a diplomat in Afghanistan — his act was significant far beyond the first reports.

Hoh speaks grim truth to power. His message is that to pursue the Afghan war policy in any guise — regardless of the troop level President Obama now chooses — will be utter folly, trapping America in an unwinnable civil war in the Hindu Kush, and only fueling terrorism.

An advisor in southern Afghanistan, Hoh knew the malignancy of want behind the war. Eight years after the U.S. invasion and a third of a trillion dollars spent, half the nation faces starvation on 45 cents a day, half the children die before five, and half the surviving young have no schools, part of a torment Afghans plead in poll after poll to be understood as the core of their conflict. He knew well the source of that scourge in the U.S.-installed Kabul regime, a kleptocracy of war- and drug-lords holed up amid American bodyguards in “poppy palaces,” while clan-based “security forces” loot the countryside, sodomize its sons, and swell insurgent ranks. “We’re propping up a government,” Hoh said last week, “that isn’t worth dying for.” So pervasive and profound is that corruption, so entwined with the private exploitation and official graft of the U.S. occupation regime — including kickbacks or extortion payments from both the American military and civilian aid programs to both the new Kabul plutocracy and the multi-layered Taliban — that the morass makes every other issue of policy moot.

The 36-year-old diplomat brings unique authority to public debate. An insider confirming outside critics dispels the myth that classified information redeems a failed policy. He also speaks to and for many in government, infusing honesty where folly feeds on wary quiet and fraudulent unanimity. “There are a lot of guys, not just in the Foreign Service but in the military, who are looking at this thing and they don’t understand what we are doing there,” he told one audience. “I get mails all the time from junior and mid-level officers telling me, ‘Keep it up. This makes no sense to us.'”

Whatever this protest says outwardly, its deeper meaning is devastating. The sheer contrast between Hoh and senior officials — seeing the same reality, the same reports — exposes some dirty little secrets of policy haunting the Obama presidency.

With the 8-year enormity of waste, venality and oppression since the invasion of 2001, ravages Hoh saw climaxed around him, went the knowing silence if not collusion of a succession of U.S. diplomats and officers responsible in the defiled occupation of Afghanistan. There is a troubling legacy, too, in the policy process. In the grip of experience irrelevant in Afghanistan, a generation of military commanders comes with a crudely recycled but promotion-rich creed of counter-insurgency, avenging what some as young officers in the 1970s saw as a false defeat if not home-front betrayal in Vietnam. They are allied with the lucrative in-and-out careerism of powerful if publicly faceless civilian Pentagon officials, what State Department rivals call the “COIN-heads” of counter-insurgency dogma. Those currents run like a murky subterranean river beneath the doomed policy Hoh silhouettes.

Most telling may be the disparity between Hoh — the serious student of Afghan culture — and Washington’s decision-makers. To deal with one of the most complex settings on earth, the Obama administration relies on key figures — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Af-Pak Special envoy Richard Holbrooke and NSC Advisor James Jones — whose careers in politics or the bureaucracy (like those commanding generals David Petraeus and Stanley McChrystal) are bereft of any substantive knowledge of a people they are supposed to master. It leaves them all dangerously dependent on staff, and prey to the absence of dissenters like Hoh among aides whose credentials are hardly more impressive than their own.

That intellectual vacuum, a mirror of Vietnam decision-making, explains the shock and hostility that greeted recent cables of US Ambassador Karl Eikenberry opposing added U.S. troops backing an irredeemable regime. As Hoh exemplifies, actual knowledge of Afghanistan is rare — and the lack scarcely recognized — in a war council prone to flippant lines like Clinton’s recent “There are warlords and there are warlords,” or Holbrooke’s definition of success, “We’ll know it when we see it.”

At the heart of Washington’s decision-making dysfunction, of course, is always a president in thrall to the hoary fears and myths of national security, the most important realm he governs and in which most take power least prepared. For Barack Obama, only historic courage and insight can surmount the multiple corruptions of policy he is heir to.

Hoh embodies that bravery. Implored by Eikenberry to stay, he chose to forgo a prized career to speak out. We know that agony. There is no easy course ahead in Afghanistan. US policies a half century before 2001 account for much of the politics now so deplored in Kabul, a breakdown inflicted as well as inherent, and a blood debt added to the toll of occupation and war.

The gruesome truth of that history is that our sacrifices so far have been largely in vain. It is Matthew Hoh’s heroism to try to stop the inseparable casualties of lives and truth.

Roger Morris and George Kenney are both Foreign Service Officers who resigned on principle — Morris at the 1970 invasion of Cambodia, Kenney in 1991 over policy in the Balkans — both writers are award-winning authors. Morris’s Between the Graves: America, Afghanistan and the Politics of Intervention, will be published by Knopf in 2010. Kenney produces and hosts a podcast at electricpolitics.com while on the Board of Editors at In These Times.

Cynthia McKinney to President Obama: Turn Away From War

November 16, 2009

Open Letter From the Peace Movement to President Obama on His Upcoming Decision Regarding the Afghan War

By Cynthia McKinney, Information Clearing House, Nov. 15, 2009

Dear Mr. President:

According to press reports, you intend to decide between November 7 and November 11 whether or not to send tens of thousands of American soldiers to Afghanistan. We are writing in advance of that decision to add our voice to those of Sen. Feingold, many House Democrats, and of a clear majority of Americans in urging you not to escalate this war, but rather to announce an immediate cease-fire followed by a withdrawal of all US troops in the fastest way consistent with the safety of our forces. We urge you to end the policy of using Predator drones to assassinate Pakistani civilians on the territory of their own country, in defiance of all concepts of international law. We also call upon you to cease all covert CIA and Pentagon operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran.

No vital American interest is at stake in Afghanistan. Former Marine and State Department official Matthew Hoh is right: the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan have come to be viewed as invaders and occupiers, and the resistance they encounter has nothing to do with international terrorism. This war is futile, and now doomed to failure. There is no military solution to the problems that beset Afghanistan. Afghanistan and the rest of this tragically war-torn region need a Marshall Plan of peaceful economic development, through which some of the 15 million unemployed workers in our own country could find productive jobs. We have no confidence in the advice being given to you by military leaders like Gen. McChrystal, who has been implicated in torture in Iraq.

We supported your candidacy because we viewed you as the best chance for ending the wars of the Bush era. We applauded your rejection of the rhetoric of fear and division that was the stock in trade of Bush and Cheney. We are alarmed by the way that rhetoric has crept into your public pronouncements since your August address in Phoenix. Your decision on Afghanistan will represent the decisive turning point of your presidency. If you turn away from war, you will provide a profile in courage that will solidify your support and open up a new perspective for progressive reforms in our country. You will honor the spirit of John F. Kennedy, who was searching for an exit strategy from the Vietnam war. If you opt for a wider war, the resulting heavy casualties will destroy confidence in your leadership among your own most devoted advocates. Hundreds of billions of dollars will be poured down a rat hole, and will no longer be available for any reform and renovation of American society, which will increasingly fall behind the economic strength of other countries. Your domestic agenda will be halted, in the same way your predecessor Lyndon B. Johnson was crippled by the Vietnam war. Escalation of the Afghan war, in short, would be an act of political suicide for you, and of national suicide for our country.

We are keenly aware of the difficulties and animosities you face, and we have long done everything possible to give your administration the benefit of the doubt, even in the face of repeated disappointments. But we now approach the moment of truth: will you be a great progressive president, or will you prove too weak to turn away from the bankrupt policies institutionalized and entrenched under Bush and Cheney. Therefore, we want you to know our attitude before you decide on the proposed Afghan escalation. If you choose to escalate, we will oppose this policy with all the energy we possess. We will act to mobilize the largest possible anti-war demonstration in Washington DC and other cities before the end of 2009, and continuously thereafter. We will support anti-war candidates of any party in the 2010 elections. If you are still waging the Afghan war in 2011, we will be forced to seriously consider backing an explicitly anti-war primary candidate to challenge you during the Democratic primaries.

We therefore respectfully urge you to act in the spirit of your 2008 campaign – the spirit of hope and change, neither of which can survive the continuation or expansion of the hopeless Afghan war.

Cynthia McKinney, DIGNITY

Hollow Victory

November 7, 2009

According to the Republicans, the United States is once again at the crossroads of losing another critical war because of feckless Democrats. Only this time it’s Afghanistan.

John Mearsheimer, FP, November 2, 2009

The conventional wisdom among most Republicans is that while the United States had serious difficulty in Vietnam during the early years, by the early 1970s things were turning around, and victory was on the verge. Unfortunately, the craven Democrats in Congress bowed to widespread anti-war sentiment and forced the Ford administration to end almost all support to South Vietnam, allowing the North Vietnamese to win the war in 1975. In the GOP version of the story, this decision was a disastrous mistake.

Continues >>

 

Who Governs the World?

October 30, 2009

By Patrick Seale, Agence Global, Oct, 30, 2009

Rarely in modern times has the planet been as ungovernable as it is today. Global problems assail us on all sides, but no global solutions are forthcoming.

Instead, what do we see? Wars, massacres, unprecedented financial crises, unresolved conflicts, over-population, food and water insecurity, pitiful mass migrations, the ravages of climate change — and, in many parts of the globe, a rash of cruel and corrupt regimes.

Long gone are the days – such as after the first and second world wars — when a handful of allied statesmen could lay down the law, draw frontiers, reward and punish, and impose a victors’ peace. Gone, too, is the bi-polar world of the Cold War, when the United States and the Soviet Union established an uneasy equilibrium.

Continues >>

 


%d bloggers like this: