Posts Tagged ‘more troops’

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.

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Afghanistan: next test, last lesson

November 27, 2009

Paul Rogers OpenDemocracy, 26 November 2009

The war in Afghanistan may now be beyond the point where any military-centred United States strategy can work.

Barack Obama is after a lengthy period of consultation moving towards the announcement of a revised strategy towards the war in Afghanistan, now scheduled to take place in a live broadcast from the West Point military academy on 1 December 2009. It is highly likely that the United States president will order a substantially increased deployment of troop numbers to Afghanistan, probably over 30,000 if not as high as the upwards of 40,000 requested by the senior US general in the country, Stanley A McChrystal (see “Obama May Add 30,000 Troops in Afghanistan”, New York Times, 24 November 2009).

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Gorbachev to Obama: ‘Prepare the ground for withdrawal’ in Afghanistan

November 11, 2009

By Jordan Fabian,  The Hill, Nov. 10, 2009

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on Tuesday advised President Barack Obama to prepare to withdraw forces from Afghanistan, rather than adding more troops.

The USSR leader, who in 1986 began the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan after a lengthy conflict there, said that adding more troops will be counterproductive.

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Afghan election farce ends, escalation to begin

November 3, 2009

By Bill Van Auken, wsws.org, November  3, 2009

The two-and-a-half-month election drama in Afghanistan was brought to a close Monday with the incumbent president of the US-backed regime in Kabul, Hamid Karzai, being decreed the winner.

The Independent Election Commission, a body stacked with Karzai supporters, issued a decision giving him another five-year term and cancelling a runoff election set for November 7.

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Obama ‘approved 13,000 more troops’ to Afghanistan

October 14, 2009

Yahoo News, Oct 13, 2009

AFP

AFP – US Marines are engulfed in a storm of dust and debris as a CH-53 helicopter lands to transport them from …

WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Barack Obama has approved the deployment of an additional 13,000 US troops to Afghanistan beyond the 21,000 he announced publicly in March, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

The additional troops are primarily support forces — such as engineers, medical specialists, intelligence experts and military police — the paper said, bringing the total build-up approved by Obama to 34,000.

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Ron Jacobs: Why Are We In Afghanistan?

October 9, 2009

by Ron Jacobs, Dissident Voice, October 8th, 2009

In 1967 Norman Mailer released a novel titled Why Are We In Vietnam? This exercise by Mailer is the story of a couple 18 year-old Texans off on a hunting trip with their wealthy fathers. The quartet are consumed with an overload of braggadocio and testosterone. The story of the trip, which is full of whiskey and tales of past sexual conquests, racial slurs and assumptions of American exceptionalism, is told through the eyes of one of the younger men. It is obviously meant as a psychological metaphor for why the US fought in Vietnam. Like the film The Deer Hunter and a number of other films having to do with killing America’s enemies, the nature of US machismo and its curious confusion with racism and homophobia, Why Are We In Vietnam? puts forth the proposition that not only is the rugged individualism of the white-skinned pioneer essential to the myth of the US conquest of the North America continent, it is also essential to the expansion of US capitalism as well.

If one explores this idea in the context of recent history both on Wall Street and in Washington’s current overseas adventures, it become clearer why very few folks in Imperial Washington — though not in the rest of the country — want to get out of Iraq or Afghanistan. The projection of military power overseas becomes compensation for the shrinking economic power of Wall Street. Liberal and right-wing believers whose stock in the church of capital has fallen can still feel good about themselves as long as their mission continues overseas against the Muslim and peasant hordes. As for the heretics within, let the loudmouth preachers of right wing radio condemn those citizens to the mercies of the angry white men and Sarah Palin — their Joan of Arc. Once the heretics have been burned at the stake of right wing rhetoric, the armies of the right will end their Tea Parties, pick up their weapons and take back the White House, installing a white person back in the Presidential bedrooms. Once done, that black man who’s in those bedrooms right now would no longer be a threat, having been emasculated just like a Scottsboro Boy.

So, while Mr. Obama (that black man) ponders whether or not he should continue the US projection of power into Afghanistan begun by his predecessor, Texan George Bush, or pull out, one wonders if Obama is part of the hunting party on par with the plantation’s generals or is he just the guy who must retrieve and dress the kill?

If he accepts General McChrystal’s call for more troops and the consequent increase in bloodshed, does Obama then become a trusted equal to the generals or the Pentagon’s Stepin’ Fetchit? If he rejects this and future calls to escalate this fruitless war, will he be sent back into the kitchen to wait for the bell telling him to bring out the next course or will it represent a defeat for the current crop of General Custers?

Then again, there’s the Biden option. This proposal would repackage the war in Afghanistan under its original wrapping as part of the “war on terror.” This repackaging would require a bit of convoluted convincing since national security adviser Ret. General James Jones told the media that “fewer than 100 Al-Qaida (the bogeymen of Islamic terror) are operating in Afghanistan.” Of course, the hawks in DC counter this statement with the argument that it is precisely because there are US troops in Afghanistan that Al Qaida’s strength has diminished. However, the fault in this line of reasoning can be found in the supposition of its supporters that the Taliban must be defeated to keep Al Qaida on the run. Why? Because at the same time that Al Qaida’s activities in Afghanistan have diminished, the strength of Taliban and other resistance forces have grown. In other words, even though Al Qaida forces have almost ended operations in Afghanistan, the resistance to western occupation has grown.

Then there’s the question of Pakistan. In recent weeks, US officials have begun to suggest the existence of a Taliban formation in the Baluchistan province of Pakistan. Furthermore, US Ambassador Anne W. Patterson and a junior US diplomat — Deputy Head of Mission Gerald Feierstein in Pakistan — have threatened US air strikes on the city of Quetta where this grouping — called the Quetta shira by western media — are supposed to be quartered. These threats have been met by calls for the expulsion of these diplomats in at least one Pakistani media outlets. If US troop numbers are increased in Afghanistan, the staging of a ground invasion into Waziristan or Baluchistan or air strikes not carried out by drones launched in Nevada becomes that much easier. If changing the situation in Pakistan is a dominant reason for the current debate over mission and troop numbers in Afghanistan and the battle in Afghanistan is considered just part of that equation, then there is little doubt that US troops will remain in that country for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, the likelihood of their numbers increasing becomes even greater. On Monday Obama said withdrawal from Afghanistan wasn’t an option. Bearing in mind Lao Tzu’s observation that he who rejoices in victory delights in killing, this writer awaits.

Ron Jacobs is the author of The Way The Wind Blew: A History of the Weather Underground. His most recent novel Short Order Frame Up is published by Mainstay Press. He can be reached at: rjacobs3625@charter.net. Read other articles by Ron, or visit Ron’s website.

Dan Simpson: Sack the general; stop the war

October 7, 2009
Gen. McChrystal the lobbyist is wrong about Afghanistan
By Dan Simpson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Oct 7, 2009

The United States is currently faced with the astonishing spectacle of a uniformed military officer, Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, lobbying publicly for the option he favors on an issue that is in front of President Barack Obama to decide.

The civilian president is still commander-in-chief of America’s armed forces, a point that Mr. Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, stressed correctly in his various flag-draped presentations. The United States isn’t Guinea.

Anyone who has ever watched the U.S. military in action on Capitol Hill, acting in coordination with the various lobbyists who represent defense contractors and others who profit from U.S. military enterprises, knows the degree to which the Pentagon is proficient at getting its way inside both the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. government.

But the whole thing is usually carried out more in line with what the military call “the chain of command.” Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones, expressed a preference for that approach with reference to Gen. McChrystal’s current undertaking on a television talk show last weekend.

Lest Gen. McChrystal’s direct “general to the people” blitzkrieg be thought unique, it is important to recall the Bush administration’s sometimes extravagant use of Gen. David H. Petraeus to try to bulk up the American public’s support for its war in Iraq.

Gen. Petraeus was painted as the genius of the troop “surge,” which theoretically saved America from defeat at a low point in that unfortunate conflict, which, also unfortunately, still hasn’t ended, in spite of the efforts of Gen. Petraeus, holdover Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and others. In case anyone hasn’t noticed (there is less reporting coming now from Iraq than from Afghanistan), the Iraq war continues and there are broad hints that U.S. forces may not be able to withdraw from there as fast as Americans had hoped. This debacle will soon have lasted seven years.

There are historical precedents for U.S. generals trying to use public pressure to maneuver presidents into particular positions on issues of interest to the military. A famous one was Gen. George B. McClellan’s face-off with Abraham Lincoln over the conduct of the Civil War, which went so far that the general finally ran for president against Mr. Lincoln in 1864 and lost.

A second famous one was in 1951 when Gen. Douglas A. MacArthur pushed Harry Truman to let him attack China during the Korean War. Although Mr. Truman eventually fired him, the general did manage to engage U.S. forces in conflict with the Chinese, with basically disastrous results.

What is going on with Gen. McChrystal and Mr. Obama is that a few months after having been given command of U.S. forces in Afghanistan by Mr. Obama, Gen. McChrystal has looked at the situation and now wants 40,000 more U.S. troops. He already is authorized 68,000, so the 40,000 would constitute about a 60 percent increase. That may well be Gen. McChrystal’s honest assessment of how many troops it would take for the United States to “win” in Afghanistan — if anyone could figure out what “winning” means in that tormented country.

It is important to bear in mind that the textbook military analysis of how many troops it would take to nail down a country the size and population of Afghanistan is 480,000. The United States finally had more than 543,000 in Vietnam and didn’t win.

What is actually going on, whether Gen. McChrystal intends it to be the case or not, is that he is saying to Mr. Obama loudly and publicly, “Give me more troops. If you don’t, I’ll lose and it will be your fault.”

It also is important to look at the political situation in the United States, as well the political and military situation in Afghanistan.

First, Afghanistan. The U.S. casualty rate there is going steadily upward. That partly reflects the fact that we have more troops there, and in more difficult combat situations. It also is becoming increasingly clear that for the Afghans, the enemy is becoming less and less al-Qaida, or the Taliban and al-Qaida, and more and more the Americans. This is perfectly normal for Afghans. They don’t like foreigners in their country, especially foreigners seeking to play a dominant role. Ask Alexander the Great, the British and the Russians. And Americans do normally try to run the show, particularly as we increase our investment in a country.

We didn’t like the way they did their elections in August. We didn’t like the result, although it is unclear who would have been more to our taste than President Hamid Karzai. We don’t like how they earn their money, mostly from illegal drugs. We would like them to do the fighting, but since that fighting would involve Afghans fighting Afghans for the most part, they are not very keen on that. On Friday we had an Afghan police officer shooting and killing two American soldiers on patrol and then escaping.

At home, after eight years, Americans are weary of the Afghan war, as well as the Iraq war. The public wonders why we continue to spend our money — upwards of a trillion dollars now — on these wars while our own economy lags, with only one job available for every six persons looking for one.

It is time to wrap up the Afghanistan war. It might be a good idea to remove Gen. McChrystal from the picture, taking him up on the part of his analysis that says, give me more troops or take me out of the game.

We don’t have to rule Afghanistan to be safe at home. If we did, we would also have to rule Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan.

Dan Simpson, a former U.S. ambassador, is a Post-Gazette associate editor (dsimpson@post-gazette.com, 412 263-1976). More articles by this author

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09280/1003447-374.stm#ixzz0TErK8XNW

Buchanan: The Costs of Mideast Wars

October 3, 2009

Patrick J.  Buchanan, The American Conservative, Sept 2, 2009

Impending today are two of the most critical decisions Barack Obama will ever make, which may determine the fate of his presidency, as well as the future of the United States in the Near and Middle East.

The first is whether to approve Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s request for thousands more U.S. troops he says he needs to prevent “mission failure” — i.e, to stave off a U.S. defeat in Afghanistan.

The second is whether Obama will start up the road of “crippling sanctions” to war with Iran, to prevent Tehran from moving closer to a capacity to produce nuclear weapons.

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U.S., NATO Poised For Most Massive War In Afghanistan’s History

September 26, 2009
by Rick Rozoff
Global Research, September 24, 2009

Over the past week U.S. newspapers and television networks have been abuzz with reports that Washington and its NATO allies are planning an unprecedented increase of troops for the war in Afghanistan, even in addition to the 17,000 new American and several thousand NATO forces that have been committed to the war so far this year.

The number, based on as yet unsubstantiated reports of what U.S. and NATO commander Stanley McChrystal and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen have demanded of the White House, range from 10,000 to 45,000.

Fox News has cited figures as high as 45,000 more American soldiers and ABC News as many as 40,000. On September 15 the Christian Science Monitor wrote of “perhaps as many as 45,000.”

The similarity of the estimates indicate that a number has been agreed upon and America’s obedient media is preparing domestic audiences for the possibility of the largest escalation of foreign armed forces in Afghanistan’s history. Only seven years ago the United States had 5,000 troops in the country, but was scheduled to have 68,000 by December even before the reports of new deployments surfaced.

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Classified McChrystal Report: 500,000 Troops Will Be Required Over Five Years

September 25, 2009

By Tom Andrew, former member of Congress, Maine

The Huffington Post, Sep 24, 2009

Embedded in General Stanley McChrystal’s classified assessment of the war in Afghanistan is his conclusion that a successful counterinsurgency strategy will require 500,000 troops over five years.

This bombshell was dropped by NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Wednesday:

The numbers are really pretty horrifying. What they say, embedded in this report by McChrystal, is they would need 500,000 troops – boots on the ground – and five years to do the job. No one expects that the Afghan Army could step up to that. Are we gonna put even half that of U.S. troops there, and NATO forces? No way. [Morning Joe, September 23, 2009]
Mitchell got the figure from an independent source. It was not revealed in the redacted version of the once classified report released by the Pentagon earlier this week. McChrystal has warned the administration that without an infusion of more troops the eight-year war in Afghanistan “will likely result in failure.”

There are perhaps only two people in America who think that this level of commitment is sustainable by the United States and its allies, and they left office last January.

Thankfully, President Obama is re-thinking his Afghanistan strategy from top to bottom in light of McChrystal’s report. In addition to the impossibility of sustaining the level of commitment this doomed-to-fail strategy would require are these stubborn facts:

  • 2009 is already the deadliest year for U.S. forces since the war began eight years ago. Fifty-one of the seven hundred and thirty eight U.S. soldiers who have lost their lives in Afghanistan were killed last month alone.
  • The national Afghanistan election that Ambassador Karl Eikenberry hoped would lead to a “renewal of trust of the Afghan people for their government” was a disaster and has had the opposite effect. The European Union election monitor has found that over 1 million votes for President Karzai, one third of his total, may be fraudulent. General McChrystal himself describes the Afghanistan government as “riddled with corruption”. A government already mired in allegations of widespread fraud and corruption, now facing serious charges and compelling evidence that it has attempted to steal the national election, has no hope of regaining the support of the people of Afghanistan.
  • A February 2009 ABC/BBC/ARD poll found that only 18 percent of Afghans support increasing the number of U.S. troops in their country. This should come as no surprise. Historically, Afghans have always forcefully resisted the presence of foreign military forces, be they British, Soviet or American.
  • The presence of foreign forces strengthens the hand of Taliban recruiters. An independent analysis early this year by the Carnegie Institute concluded that the presence of foreign troops is probably the single most important factor in the resurgence of the Taliban.

Andrea Mitchell hit the nail on the head after revealing that 500,000 troops would be required over five years on MSNBC:

Would you prefer to have a president who doesn’t shift strategy when he gets this kind of ground troop from the commanders?

Right question. And the answer is: NO!

Congress should immediately convene hearings to discuss alternatives to General McChrystal’s proposal for such a massive escalation of the war in Afghanistan. It is time for the administration and Congress to demilitarize U.S. policy in Afghanistan and strike out in a new, sustainable, direction.


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