Posts Tagged ‘foreign troops’

Withdrawal from Afghanistan: Another way out of the mire

November 18, 2009

Editorial

The Guardian/UK, Nov. 18, 2009

The case for continuing the war effort in Afghanistan is buttressed by negatives: the west can not afford to cede al-Qaida the space to regroup; there will be a civil war if foreign troops leave; Pakistan’s fight against the Taliban would be undermined; Afghanistan would be abandoned for the second time in eight years. We can say what our forces are fighting against, but not what they are fighting for. Is it a second term of Hamid Karzai, whose inauguration tomorrow the west will endorse? The most devastating description of his government was provided by a former US marine captain, Matthew Hoh, who resigned as a US foreign serviceman in Zabul province. He described the government’s failing as legion and metastatic: glaring corruption; a president whose confidants comprise drug lords and war criminals; provincial and district leaders who live off US handouts ; an election dominated by fraud and discredited by low voter turnout.

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Quittin’ Time in Afghanistan

August 24, 2009

by Eric Margolis | The Toronto Sun, Aug 23, 2009

An election held under the guns of a foreign occupation army cannot be called legitimate or democratic.This week’s stage-managed vote in Afghanistan for candidates chosen by western powers is unlikely to bring either peace or tranquility to this wretched nation that has suffered 30 years of war.

The Taliban and its nationalist allies rejected the vote as a fraud designed to validate continued foreign occupation and open the way for western oil and gas pipelines.

The Taliban, which speaks for many of Afghanistan’s majority Pashtun, said it would only join a national election when U.S. and NATO troops withdraw.

After all the pre-election hoopla and agitprop in Afghanistan, we come out the same door we went in. The amiable U.S.-installed leader, Hamid Karzai, may remain in office, powerless.

Yet Washington is demanding its figurehead achieve things he simply cannot do. Meanwhile, Karzai’s regime is engulfed by corruption and drug dealing.

Real power remains with strongmen from the Tajik and Uzbek minorities and local, drug-dealing tribal warlords who are paid by Washington to pretend to support Karzai. Behind the Tajiks and Uzbeks stand their patrons, Russia, India and Iran.

Afghanistan’s Pashtun tribes, which make up 55% of the population, are largely excluded from power. They were the West’s closest allies and foot soldiers (“freedom fighters”) during the 1980s war against the Soviets.

The Taliban arose during the chaotic civil war of the early 1990s as a rural, mostly Pashtun religious movement to stop the wide-scale rape of women, impose order, and fight the drug-dealing Afghan Communists. The so-called “terrorist Taliban” received U.S. funding until four months before 9/11. Washington cut off aid after the Taliban made the fatal error of giving a major pipeline deal to an Argentine rather than U.S. oil firm for which Hamid Karzai once reportedly worked as a consultant.

Oil pipeline

The current war in Afghanistan is not about democracy, women’s rights, education or nation building. Al-Qaida, the other excuse, barely exists. Its handful of members long ago decamped to Pakistan. The war really is about oil pipeline routes and western domination of the energy-rich Caspian Basin.

Afghanistan is a three-legged ethnic stool. Take away the Pashtun leg and stability is impossible.

There will be neither peace nor stability in Afghanistan until all ethnic groups are enfranchised. The West must cease backing minority Tajiks and Uzbeks against majority Pashtun — who deserve their rightful share of power and spoils.

The solution to this unnecessary war is not more phoney elections but a comprehensive peace agreement among ethnic factions that largely restores the status quo before the 1970 Soviet invasion. That means a weak central government in Kabul (Karzai is ideal for this job) and a high degree of autonomy for self-governing Pashtun, Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara regions.

Government should revert to the old “loya jirga” system of tribal sit downs, where decisions are made by consensus, often after lengthy haggling. That is the way of the Afghans and of traditional Islamic society.

All foreign soldiers must withdraw. Create a diplomatic “cordon sanitaire” around Afghanistan’s borders, returning it to its traditional role as a neutral buffer state.

The powers now stirring the Afghan pot — the U.S., NATO, India, Iran, Russia, the Communist Central Asian states — must cease meddling. They have become part of the Afghan problem. Afghans must be allowed to slowly resolve their differences the traditional Afghan way, even if it initially means blood. That’s unavoidable.

The only way to end the epidemic of drug trading is to shut border crossings to Pakistan and the Central Asian states. But those nation’s high officials, corrupted by drug money, will resist.

We can’t solve Afghanistan’s social or political problems by waging a cruel and apparently endless war. A senior British general just warned his troops might have to stay for another 40 years. (He later retracted).

The western powers, Canada included, have added to the bloody mess in Afghanistan. Time to go home.

© 2009 The Toronto Sun

Eric Margolis is a columnist for The Toronto Sun. A veteran of many conflicts in the Middle East, Margolis recently was featured in a special appearance on Britain’s Sky News TV as “the man who got it right” in his predictions about the dangerous risks and entanglements the US would face in Iraq. His latest book is American Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the West and the Muslim World

Ron Paul: Imagine an Occupied America

March 11, 2009

By Ron Paul | Daily Paul, March 10, 2009

Imagine for a moment that somewhere in the middle of Texas there was a large foreign military base, say Chinese or Russian. Imagine that thousands of armed foreign troops were constantly patrolling American streets in military vehicles. Imagine they were here under the auspices of “keeping us safe” or “promoting democracy” or “protecting their strategic interests.”

Imagine that they operated outside of US law, and that the Constitution did not apply to them. Imagine that every now and then they made mistakes or acted on bad information and accidentally killed or terrorized innocent Americans, including women and children, most of the time with little to no repercussions or consequences. Imagine that they set up check points on our soil and routinely searched and ransacked entire neighborhoods of homes. Imagine if Americans were fearful of these foreign troops, and overwhelmingly thought America would be better off without their presence.

Imagine if some Americans were so angry about them being in Texas that they actually joined together to fight them off, in defense of our soil and sovereignty, because leadership in government refused or were unable to do so. Imagine that those Americans were labeled terrorists or insurgents for their defensive actions, and routinely killed, or captured and tortured by the foreign troops on our land. Imagine that the occupiers’ attitude was that if they just killed enough Americans, the resistance would stop, but instead, for every American killed, ten more would take up arms against them, resulting in perpetual bloodshed. Imagine if most of the citizens of the foreign land also wanted these troops to return home. Imagine if they elected a leader who promised to bring them home and put an end to this horror.

Imagine if that leader changed his mind once he took office.

The reality is that our military presence on foreign soil is as offensive to the people that live there as armed Chinese troops would be if they were stationed in Texas. We would not stand for it here, but we have had a globe straddling empire and a very intrusive foreign policy for decades that incites a lot of hatred and resentment towards us.

According to our own CIA, our meddling in the Middle East was the prime motivation for the horrific attacks on 9/11. But instead of re-evaluating our foreign policy, we have simply escalated it. We had a right to go after those responsible for 9/11, to be sure, but why do so many Americans feel as if we have a right to a military presence in some 160 countries when we wouldn’t stand for even one foreign base on our soil, for any reason? These are not embassies, mind you, these are military installations. The new administration is not materially changing anything about this. Shuffling troops around and playing with semantics does not accomplish the goals of the American people, who simply want our men and women to come home. 50,000 troops left behind in Iraq is not conducive to peace any more than 50,000 Russian soldiers would be in the United States.

Shutting down military bases and ceasing to deal with other nations with threats and violence is not isolationism. It is the opposite. Opening ourselves up to friendship, honest trade and diplomacy is the foreign policy of peace and prosperity. It is the only foreign policy that will not bankrupt us in short order, as our current actions most definitely will. I share the disappointment of the American people in the foreign policy rhetoric coming from the administration. The sad thing is, our foreign policy WILL change eventually, as Rome’s did, when all budgetary and monetary tricks to fund it are exhausted.

Congressman Ron Paul of Texas enjoys a national reputation as the premier advocate for liberty in politics today.


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