THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN
SEPTEMBER 20, 2010. You may recall that the decision to launch the current 18-month surge in military action came after President Obama engaged in a six-month appraisal of the situation. Obama explored the matter from top to bottom. He consulted with military advisors. He dragged out every possible option.
So what are we doing in Afghanistan again?
Shortly after 9/11, Bush ordered the US invasion. Supposedly, the goal was to find Osama Bin Laden and also knock out Al Qaeda training camps.
Rapidly, those objectives became entangled with overpowering the Taliban, the strongest military and political force in the country. The Taliban was cooperating with Al Qaeda: That was the rationale.
Bush's mission, according to press reports and White House press releases, was a partial success. Although Bin Laden was never found, Al Qaeda enclaves were destroyed. And the Taliban was pushed into relative obscurity.
A US handpicked Afghan president was elected with the goal of unifying the country.
Fast forward to Obama. Predictably, the Taliban had come out of the woodwork and was asserting its supremacy once again. Al Qaeda encampments were operating out of the no-man's land between Afghanistan and Pakistan and inside Pakistan, where according to some experts, they always had been.
The decision to go back into Afghanistan with more troops was based on the idea that the people and tribes and clans and villages of the country could be extricated from Taliban control if US troops took on an overt role as helpers and builders. Villages would be cooperatively strengthened and made more independent, etc.
This proposition presented several obstacles. Tribes and clans in Afghanistan have been warring with each other for centuries. Afghanistan was never a true nation. Disentangling locals from the Taliban would demand thousands of micro-managed operations. Of course, once US troops left, as Obama promised they would, after 18 months, the Taliban would reappear and resume their coercive conquests. Finally, the new central government of the country, a corrupt bunch, was viewed by most of the population as a remote power having no relevance or connection to their own concerns or lives.
To date, there is no sign that any of these obstacles have been overcome decisively.
What reason do we have to believe they will be?
And why, again, did Obama think he could gain significant ground in Afghanistan? How was this a war whose goals could be met?
Training up an Afghan army has proved to be an extremely difficult feat. Soldiers desert, they steal supplies, they feel only a faint obligation to police their own country. So when US forces come home, what will be left behind?
What was and is Obama thinking?
In August, Afghan President Karzai issued an invitation to hold new discussions with President Obama about the course of the war. Karzai stated that the war should not be about villages; it should be about shutting down Taliban terrorist attacks. Karzai also remarked that civilian casualties caused by foreign troops continue to be a major source of resentment among the Afghan population.
In other words, by Karzai's estimate, the war is a failure. Whatever good will is being engendered by the "village-building" efforts of US troops is being undermined by the civilian casualties.
No matter what platitudes one might want to ascribe to war, it always involves destroying civilians. We can wish that it should not be so, but then we are talking about something other than war. Surely, Obama and his generals understood this going in. Restrictive rules of military engagement don't eliminate bringing harm to civilians, and these rules also open US soldiers to grave danger.
Perhaps Obama's real objective in Afghanistan has been to avoid the embarrassment of watching a US-created central government topple into the dust. If so, that's a scant and cruel motive for war-especially since the Karzai crowd seems entirely capable of bringing itself down.
Or perhaps the US is in Afghanistan because certain people are hoping to control the oil/natural gas pipeline across the country, if it is eventually built. Or because of the estimated trillion-dollar mineral deposits which have been known about for some time. Or because the opium poppy business is worth many billions. We can speculate on these and other motives-establishing, for example, US military platforms close to Russia and Iran-but meanwhile, the US administration is no closer to achieving its vaguely stated goals for the war than it was when Obama took office.
The human and financial costs for this quagmire are very steep. And no amount of high-flying noble rhetoric coming out of the White House will curtail those costs or, as far as the eye can see, bring America closer to national security. (Jon Rappoport) www.nomorefakenews.com (Jon Rappoport is the author of the LOGIC AND ANALYSIS course for home schoolers. For inquiries: email@example.com)
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Government it is necessary to remove from the minds of men their individualism,
their loyalty to family traditions and national identification" Brock Chisholm - Director of the World Health Organization
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