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Afghanistan: Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace?

category international | anti-war / imperialism | feature author Wednesday December 02, 2009 23:02author by Gerard Horgan - Freelance writer Report this post to the editors

Obama's War

featured image
Bush First, Obama Second

After more than three months' deliberation, President Barack Obama has finally decided to commit more than 30,000 US troops to the Afghan war. The ‘Afghan surge’ is to be fast tracked over the next six months with a large bulk of the troops arriving before Christmas. The deployment will cost approximately $1 million dollars per soldier, per year, some $30 billion overall. This price tag is on top of the considerable costs (running into the hundreds of billions of dollars) of keeping over 100,000 US soldiers ‘in-country’, while maintaining other US global military operations as well as the on-going fiasco in Iraq. The combined deployment of US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan is close to 250,000 service personnel, which is augmented by the greatest number of private military contractors/mercenaries ever seen (some 100,000 in Iraq alone).

President Obama’s efforts to keep everyone on-side (with one eye on re-election in 2013) has had the effect of achieving the complete opposite. The US General in charge, Stanley McChrystal, will not get the 45,000 troops he requested but just enough troops to guarantee failure (it is doubtful that 300,000 additional US troops would make the slightest difference to the quagmire in Afghanistan). Republicans have accused Obama of dithering over the decision-making process and undermining the US military by indicating that US (and presumably NATO) forces will withdraw by 2011. Those on the left and in the peace movements will point to the troop escalation and ‘Obama’s War’ as an indication that he has failed those who believed in ‘change’. Meanwhile a recent poll indicates that 63% of Americans are against a further deployment, 51% say the war is "not worth fighting" and that ending the foreign occupation will "reduce terrorism".

Reports indicate that the Obama administration seems to think that it can recruit, train and deploy hundreds of thousands of Afghan soldiers and police who will eventually step-in as NATO forces ‘step down’. There is pressure on the bankrupt Karzai government (a president who can barely leave his Kabul compound for fear of losing his life), to achieve ‘mission impossible’. The Afghan government forces are regarded as ill-disciplined, corrupt and infiltrated by the Taleban. According to the Guardian’s Ewen MacAskill the “Afghan army has a loss rate of about 25% of its members, the bulk of whom just walk away”.

Obama is banking on his surge producing results, however, according to Robert Fisk, the Independent’s award winning Middle Eastern correspondent, instead of sending gun wielding soldiers he should have sent “doctors, teachers and engineers”. The Afghans have seen very little improvement in their day-to-day lives over the last eight years of perpetual war. NATO drone attacks, like the one that vaporised approximately 90 innocent civilians at a fuel tanker, are alienating the population. These are not isolated incidents. In September, The Guardian reported that an RAF C-130 Hercules dropped leaflets over an Afghan village; one box failed to disperse in mid-air and instead struck a young girl. An RAF spokesperson stated: “"It is a matter of deep regret that one of the boxes failed to fully open and on landing caused serious injuries to an Afghan child." The young girl later died in hospital. Johann Hari in the Independent reported that “Lt. Col. David Kilcullen, who was a counter-insurgency advisor in Iraq, commented that that US aerial attacks on the Afghan-Pakistan border have killed 14 al-Qa'ida leaders, at the expense of more than 700 civilian lives. He went onto to say: "That's a hit rate of 2 per cent on 98 per cent collateral. It's not moral."

The exact figure for the numbers of Afghan dead is not known (the US doesn’t do body-counts apparently) but it is sure to run to the many thousands. One US professor commented that prior to the outbreak of hostilities in the winter of 2001; millions of Afghans were in danger of starvation if the bombing interfered (as it did) with aid convoys from Pakistan. The killing of innocent civilians rubbishes the campaign to win the Orwellian phrased ‘battle for hearts of minds’ and instead drives hostile Afghans into the arms of the resistance, fuelling a war without end.

The wider instability the war is creating is of equal concern. Pakistan has seen a dramatic surge in violence, with suicide bombers penetrating to the heart of the government and military establishment. The immediate fear is for the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons sites. The country runs the real risk of descending into the kind of all out ‘Somali-style’ anarchy, associated with a failed state. The impact of Pakistan ceasing to function as a viable state on India, Iran and Kashmir is too enormous to contemplate.

As Obama travels to Oslo to pick up his Nobel Peace Prize, the long slow march to human destruction has been set firmly in train. Afghanistan, a mountainous and largely unforgiving land, is regarded as ‘the graveyard of empires’. Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, the British Empire (which is currently engaged in its fourth Afghan War) and the Soviet Union all suffered dramatic losses and were forced into humiliating retreats. It is unlikely that it will be any different this time round.

author by irish lessons - Counterpunchpublication date Thu Dec 03, 2009 09:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Human Terrain Systems, Anthropologists and the War in Afghanistan

“Agricola first laid waste the land. Then he displayed to the natives his moderation.”

-- Tacitus

A core feature of the Obama administration’s plans for victories in Iraq and Afghanistan has been an increased reliance on counterinsurgency, as Americans try to win the hearts and minds of peoples whose countries they’ve invaded. Some critics highlight similarities between Kennedy’s and Obama’s interest in counterinsurgency as a tool to conquer peoples who have historically been difficult, if not impossible, for outside colonial powers to dominate. President Obama’s reliance on old Harvard hands to socially engineer conquest justifies many of these comparisons.

Even counterinsurgency’s lustiest cheerleaders, such as the political scientist David Kilcullen, admit that historical instances of successfully using counterinsurgency for military victories have been extremely rare in the past half-century. But Washington’s counterinsurgency believers share a certain hubris, or vanity, that they are clever enough to overcome this daunting record of historical failure.

While political science was the academic discipline which the wars of the twentieth century drew upon, the asymmetrical wars of the twenty-first century now look toward anthropology with hopes of finding models of culture, or data on specific cultures to be conquered or to be used in counterinsurgency operations. But anthropology is not political science, and anthropologists have different commitments to those who share their lives and vulnerabilities with them.

The counterinsurgency program generating the greatest friction among anthropologists today is Human Terrain Systems (HTS) – a program with over 400 employees, originally operating through private contractors and now in the process of being taken over by the U.S. Army. Human Terrain embeds anthropologists with military units to ease the occupation and conquest of Iraqis and Afghanis – with plans to extend these operations in Africa through expanding units with AFRICOM. Some HTS social scientists are armed, others choose not to. In the last two years, three HTS social scientists have been killed in the course of their work, and HTS member Don Ayala recently pled guilty in U.S. District Court to killing an Afghan (whom Ayala shot in the head-execution style while the victim was detained with his hands cuffed behind him) who had attacked HTS social scientist Paula Loyd.

The anthropologist Montgomery McFate has become the public spokesperson for Human Terrain, and while she has increasingly pulled back from public discussions of the workings and implications of Human Terrain, in reading her early writings on British counterinsurgency operations against the IRA, we find a model of how she (and, it appears, her military sponsors) view anthropology working as a tool for military conquest. Supporters of HTS claim the program uses embedded social scientists to help reduce “kinetic engagements,” or unnecessary violent contacts with the populations they encounter. The idea is to use these social scientists to interact with members of the community, creating relationships to reduce misunderstandings that can lead to unnecessarily violent interactions.

Full article continued..........

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author by Michael Gallagherpublication date Fri Dec 04, 2009 00:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If you read the contents of this link Eamonn, you may agree that it's not so simple as dropping a bomb or two.

Guardians of the Heroin?
Guardians of the Heroin?

author by Jim M - PANApublication date Tue Dec 08, 2009 17:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Press Release 7/12/09 Peace & Neutrality Alliance

For further information contact Roger Cole, Chair of the Peace & Neutrality Alliance Tel:087-2611597


In response to a question by SF Dail Deputy Caoimhghin O Caolain, the Minister for Defence Mr. Willie O'Dea TD admitted that the annual cost to the Irish people to have 7 Irish soldiers taking part in the war and occupation of Afghanistan was €270,000.

Roger Cole, Chair of PANA said:

"Irishmen first served in the ranks of the Battle Groups of the British Union when it invaded, conquered and sought to occupy Afghanistan in the 1830's, and nearly 2 centuries later the British are still trying to conquer it. The British political elite is as committed to imperial wars just as it was 200 years ago, despite the fact that over 70% of their own people are against it. Not to be outdone the Irish political elite are continuing the tradition of the Irish Imperialism of the 1830's. At a time when they are imposing massive cuts in wages and social welfare provisions in order to help bail out their banker and speculator allies, they could at least save over a quarter of a million euro by immediately withdrawing Irish troops from Afghanistan. There is little we can do to stop President Obama from bankrupting his own country by sending 30,000 ever troops (it cost the US $1 million per soldier per year to send a US sold! ier to Afghanistan) at a time when millions of US citizens are being driven into poverty by the Bush-Obama Wars except terminate the use by US troops of Shannon Airport. If we did it would be the best Christmas present the American people ever got from the Irish, by maybe-just maybe, force President Obama to focus on the living standards of the vast majority of his own people rather than that of the US bankers and the military industrial complex."

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author by Iraq Vetspublication date Wed Dec 09, 2009 09:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Vid (1,28)-Iraq veterans Against the War take it to the streets in Seattle

author by An Afghan woman's voice....publication date Wed Dec 16, 2009 05:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Afghanistan is Fed Up with Occupation
Malalai Joya Among Warlords

"Afghans live under the shadow of the gun with the most corrupt government in the world."
-- Malalai Joya

It's too bad Barack Obama didn't consult with Malalai Joya before giving his Nobel acceptance speech on Thursday. The ex-Afghan Parliamentarian could have helped the president to see that the ongoing US occupation is damaging to both American and Afghan interests. Afghanistan is not the "Just War" that Obama defends so passionately in his speech. It's part of a larger US geopolitical strategy which Joya outlines in her new book "A Woman Among the Warlords: The extraordinary story of an Afghan who dared to raise her voice". US policymakers have decided to establish a beachhead in Central Asia to monitor the growth of China, surround Russia, control vital resources from the Caspian Basin, and provide security for US mega-corporations who see Asia as the "market of the future." It's the Great Game all over again. "Victory" in Afghanistan means that a handful of weapons manufacturers, oil magnates, and military contractors will get very rich. It has nothing to do with al-Qaida, "democracy promotion" or US national security. That's all just public relations pablum.

"A Woman Among the Warlords" is an explosive narrative that takes a scalpel to many of the illusions surrounding the US invasion of Afghanistan. For example, most Americans have never heard about the "Warlord Strategy", a term that is commonplace among Afghans. That's because it doesn't mesh with the media's story about Afghan "liberation". The truth is, US war-planners, led by Sec Def Donald Rumsfeld, settled on a plan to hand over entire regions of Afghanistan to the warlords even before the first shot was fired. The whole "liberation"-meme was just a ruse to elicit support for the war.

Here's how Joya sums it up in her own words:
"The people of Afghanistan are fed up with the occupation of their country and with the corrupt, Mafia-state of Hamid Karzai and the warlords and drug lords backed by NATO.... It is clear now that the real motive of the U.S. and its allies, hidden behind the so-called “war on terror,” was to convert Afghanistan into a military base in Central Asia and the capital of the world’s opium drug trade. Ordinary Afghan people are being used in this chess game, and western taxpayers’ money and the blood of soldiers is being wasted on this agenda that will only further destabilize the region....Afghan and American lives are being needlessly lost."
Article contiued on the following site........................

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