Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Time to put an end to the war in Afghanistan

(photos courtesy of the Nation)
"Meaningless is the right term for the Afghanistan war, too, because our bloody attempt to conquer this foreign land has nothing to do with its stated purpose of enhancing our national security. Just as the government of Vietnam was never a puppet of Communist China or the Soviet Union, the Taliban is not a surrogate for Al Qaeda. Involved in both instances was an American intrusion into a civil war whose passions and parameters we never fully grasped and could not control militarily."--Robert Scheer

"Here's the truth of it, though: when it comes to Afghan lives--especially if we think, correctly or not, that our safety is involved--it doesn't matter whether five wedding parties or fifty go down, two funerals or twenty-five. Our media isn't about to focus real attention on the particular form of barbarity involved--the American air war over Afghanistan which has been a war of and for, not on, terror."--Tom Engelhardt
More evidence this week of the debacle that is unfolding in Afghanistan, all of it largely unreported here in Australia.

It is now well recognised that the so called "elections" were a fraud. The recent election revealed the fraud, corruption and unpopularity of the US-backed regime. Just last week the top American diplomat at the United Nations in Afghanistan, Peter Galbraith was fired after making accusations that the head of the UN mission in Afghanistan, Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide, helped cover up electoral fraud and was biased in favor of Hamid Karzai. Galbraith, who was deputy head chief of the UN mission in Afghanistan criticized the United Nations for downplaying the level of voter fraud. In a letter published in the Washington Post on Sunday, Galbraith reveals that his dismissal was due to his insistence that the United Nations reveal the extent of the fraud in the recent elections, which in some regions resulted in up to ten times as many votes being recorded as votes actually cast.

Galbraith described the Afghan election as a “foreseeable train wreck” and said the election “handed the Taliban its greatest strategic victory in eight years of fighting the United States and its Afghan partners.

General Stanley McChrystal, commander of the 100,000-strong US and NATO force in Afghanistan, wants the Obama administration to commit 40,000 extra troops to reduce the counter-insurgency operation against the Taliban and focus on al-Qaeda. It is expected that Obama will approve the request, leading to a rapid escalation of the war. The White House said Monday that President Obama is not considering a strategy for Afghanistan that would withdraw U.S. troops from the eroding war there. All this despite the fact that Obama was elected to end, not escalate the war.

The American Congress is due to pass an Appropriations bill this week for another $636 billion for the Pentagon which includes another $128 billion to fund the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, making the total US spend on defense related expenditure upwards of a trillion dollars. It now costs more than $750,000 US a year to keep a single US soldier in Afghanistan.

There is more and more realisation in the USA that the Obama administration faces the same quagmire of entrapment in an overseas war that enveloped and ultimately destroyed the Johnson administration.

Domestic opposition to a US "surge" is increasing as the death toll rises
. About 400 coalition troops have been killed in Afghanistan this year - the majority of them American. The death toll from a Taliban attack on Saturday was the highest suffered by NATO's International Security Assistance Force since August 2008, when ten French troops died in an ambush in Kabul province. It was also the highest inflicted on US troops in Afghanistan since 200 insurgents killed nine Americans in an attack on another remote outpost in the village of Wanat in Nuristan in July last year.

The civilian death toll continues to mount
. Each week more civilians are killed, often by NATO air strikes. In September a German air strike killed 100 Afghans, the majority farmers from a local village.In Germany the details of the massacre at Kunduz has initiated heated discussion about Germany's involvement in the war. Last week a NATO air strike on a compound in southern Afghanistan reportedly killed a family of six. An air strike by the Dutch military resulted in the loss of 14 people, including, six children and three women. The Dutch defense ministry said that the F-16 bomber had been called in to provide air support to NATO troops fighting Taliban insurgents in Helmand province.

The Nation magazine is worth checking out for its slide show on Afghanistan from which the pictures and quotes at the top of this piece are taken.

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