Land of Perpetual War: US Troop Levels in Afghanistan to Double from Last Year

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

According to a report by Paul Tait of Reuters, published at Truthout.org, U.S. forces in Afghanistan have expanded to near double the level of last year, with plans to expand to 68,000 troops or more by December, up from 32,000 at the end of 2008. Currently, with both U.S. and other allied troops, there are over 100,000 soldiers facing what is reported to be a more “aggressive” and “brazen” Taliban force.

Forty-one U.S. troops died in Afghanistan in the past month; 71 allied troops overall. The article gave no figures for Afghan deaths.

Commander of U.S. forces, U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal — formerly head of Special Forces for the Pentagon, during a time when Special Operations units were implicated in torture in Iraq — “said the resurgent Taliban have forced a change of tactics on foreign forces and warned that record casualty figures would remain high for some months” (emphasis added). No one asks why the Taliban should be stronger now, almost eight years after 9/11 — well, no one in the mainstream U.S. press.

The war in Afghanistan continues to escalate, even as no one is really sure what the war is about anymore, or what endgame is envisioned. But things are getting clearer and clearer to Afghans themselves. Here's some testimony from Malalai Joya, from Afghanistan, published in the Guardian UK (H/T Chris Floyd):

In 2005, I was the youngest person elected to the new Afghan parliament. Women like me, running for office, were held up as an example of how the war in Afghanistan had liberated women. But this democracy was a facade, and the so-called liberation a big lie….

Almost eight years after the Taliban regime was toppled, our hopes for a truly democratic and independent Afghanistan have been betrayed by the continued domination of fundamentalists and by a brutal occupation that ultimately serves only American strategic interests in the region.

You must understand that the government headed by Hamid Karzai is full of warlords and extremists who are brothers in creed of the Taliban. Many of these men committed terrible crimes against the Afghan people during the civil war of the 1990s.

For expressing my views I have been expelled from my seat in parliament, and I have survived numerous assassination attempts. The fact that I was kicked out of office while brutal warlords enjoyed immunity from prosecution for their crimes should tell you all you need to know about the “democracy” backed by Nato troops….

So far, Obama has pursued the same policy as Bush in Afghanistan. Sending more troops and expanding the war into Pakistan will only add fuel to the fire…. Today the situation of women is as bad as ever. Victims of abuse and rape find no justice because the judiciary is dominated by fundamentalists….

This week, US vice-president Joe Biden asserted that “more loss of life [is] inevitable” in Afghanistan, and that the ongoing occupation is in the “national interests” of both the US and the UK.

I have a different message to the people of Britain. I don't believe it is in your interests to see more young people sent off to war, and to have more of your taxpayers' money going to fund an occupation that keeps a gang of corrupt warlords and drug lords in power in Kabul.

Author Tariq Ali reports in the London Review of Books (again, H/T Chris Floyd):

This is now Obama’s war. He campaigned to send more troops into Afghanistan and to extend the war, if necessary, into Pakistan. These pledges are now being fulfilled. On the day he publicly expressed his sadness at the death of a young Iranian woman caught up in the repression in Tehran, US drones killed 60 people in Pakistan. The dead included women and children, whom even the BBC would find it difficult to describe as ‘militants’. Their names mean nothing to the world; their images will not be seen on TV networks. Their deaths are in a ‘good cause’….

In May this year, Graham Fuller, a former CIA station chief in Kabul, published an assessment of the crisis in the region in the Huffington Post. Ignored by the White House…. not only did Fuller say that Obama was ‘pressing down the same path of failure in Pakistan marked out by George Bush’ and that military force would not win the day, he also explained… that the Taliban are all ethnic Pashtuns, that the Pashtuns ‘are among the most fiercely nationalist, tribalised and xenophobic peoples of the world, united only against the foreign invader’ and ‘in the end probably more Pashtun than they are Islamist’. ‘It is a fantasy,’ he said, ‘to think of ever sealing the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.’ And I don’t imagine he is the only retired CIA man to refer back to the days when Cambodia was invaded ‘to save Vietnam’….

You don't have to be a genius to see the Democrats, led by Barack Obama, sauntering down the same path as Jack Kennedy or Lyndon Johnson — or Richard Nixon, for that matter — and blundering into Asian war, led by the nose by the war profiteers, by the military brass and intelligence agencies that stand to get tons of money and promotions fighting the wars of their generation, oblivious that this grasping after money and glory could have some social cost. Just ask the generals of the former Red Army, or the Wehrmacht, for that matter, about the price of such empire-building, going all the way back to Ipsus and Marathon.

What's worst is the paralysis of much of the liberal left, who cannot bring themselves to call up the old antiwar chants hauled out previously in the early Bush years. Over time, the antiwar movement became subordinated to electing Democrats, and forgot how to do anything else. Now the Democrats are in power and they are pushing the war, and what's a good antiwar progressive to do but grit his or her teeth and hope things will change.

Well, that's bullshit, and if those who call themselves progressive can't bestir themselves to see they must oppose this militarist, imperialist aggression, whose legacy is only death, hatred, and more cycles of violence and war, then they deserve their ignominious fate, which is irrelevancy and a slow descent into reactionary politics, or exit from politics altogether.

Update:
The following information adds corroboration to what I am saying in the diary, and comments not only on the war cost issue, but puts into perspective the military strategy pursued by the U.S. in this new, more deadly phase of fighting in Afghanistan. Jim Maceda, who has reported from Afghanistan since 2001, had this to say, reporting from NBC news (emphasis added, H/T chrississippi in comments):

But [McChrystal's] plan to put troops into heavily populated areas isn't a new strategy. Thousands of Canadian forces have been doing just that for several years in Kandahar, trying to “separate the enemy from the people,” with little success.

What is new (that word again) is the commitment of large numbers of U.S. forces to reinforce those Canadian units in the South.

U.S. military experts, quoted in Sunday's Washington Post, said that these security and political commitments will last at least a decade and potentially cost the U.S. more than the war in Iraq.

Mir agreed with the time line. “It could take another decade,” he said, “to convince the Taliban that fighting is useless.”

Also posted at Invictus

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    • Valtin on August 11, 2009 at 4:10 am
      Author

    Also at Daily Kos, where I got an interesting collection of comments.

  1. even the Illuminati set has picked up on the Boomtown that is Bagram Airbase.  Two cement factories going full bore complete with a Burger King, Pizza Hut and PX and still building.  Amazing how Bush’s War of Terror continues.  Now whose pipeline is it?

  2. marches onward!

    This beats all!  Afghan War: NATO Builds History’s First Global Army

    Rick Rozoff | Stop NATO

    Two months before the eighth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and the beginning of NATO’s first-ever ground war the world is witness to a 21st Century armed conflict without end waged by the largest military coalition in history.

    With recent announcements that troops from such diverse nations as Colombia, Mongolia, Armenia, Japan, South Korea, Ukraine and Montenegro are to or may join those of some 45 other countries serving under the command of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), there will soon be military personnel from fifty nations on five continents and in the Middle East serving under a unified command structure.

    Never before have soldiers from so many states served in the same war theater, much less the same country. . . .

    Oh, and “Afghanistan could take 40 years,” says new army chief

    Richards, who will become Chief of the General Staff later this month, told the Times: “I believe that the UK will be committed to Afghanistan in some manner – development, governance, security sector reform – for the next 30 to 40 years.”

    He said British troop involvement should be needed only in the medium term and that the role of the army would evolve, adding that the focus should now shift to the expansion of the Afghan national army and police.

    “Just as in Iraq, it is our route out militarily, but the Afghan people and our opponents need to know that this does not mean our abandoning the region,” he said.

    His prediction echoes those of other senior figures, including the British ambassador to the United States, Sir Nigel Sheinwald, who said last month that Britain would have to be involved in Afghanistan for decades. In January the then defence secretary, Des Browne, warned that British troops could be fighting in Afghanistan for decades. . . . .

    “Le plus ca change . . . . !”

    I think it’s pretty clear who’s running the show.  If you will recall Obama was against the wars — was going to end the war in Iraq, etc., etc., and then, later on, it was that the troops would be withdrawn, but a residual troop bas of some 35,000 or 50,000 troops would remain to “help out.”  

    It’s all f..king bullshit, all the way around, Valtin.  The plain and simple truth is the reasons for invading Iraq are the same, and more, for the escalation in Afghanistan, and “fringing” Pakistan.  Afghanistan is close the Caspian Sea, loaded with oil, and has tons of natural gas with a pipeline leading to Afghanistan.  Moreover, Afghanistan is very rich in natural minerals, i.e., gold, uranium, copper, etc., as is Baluchistan, Pakistan, also very rich in natural minerals.  Observe where we are positioned in Pakistan.

    It makes me want to regurgitate, literally.  I can’t stand what’s happening!  

    FYI, all these years, I have been out on the streets protesting the wars, as have many thousands across the states all these years — but we’ve been IGNORED.  So many in our government profit from these wars, as do the REAL profiteers, i.e., MIC — all with the goal of the “golden pot” at the end of the rainbow.  Death and killing humans means nothing, NOTHING to any of them.

    Someday, I fear that bombs will be dropped on us, in retaliation of our aggressions and killing!

    If you’ve never read it before, an excellent article, by Richard W. Behan,

    From Afghanistan to Iraq: Connecting the Dots with Oil

    By Richard W. Behan, AlterNet. Posted February 5, 2007.

    An in-depth look at the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the events leading up to them, and the players who made them possible. . . . . .

  3. to post it here, as well — all relative:

    Here are the RESULTS of all the lies, deceit and deliberation of effort that Ray McGovern articulates that led us into a “war of agression:


    Sabah al-Baghdadi – Iraq: Disastrous and Shocking Official Statistics

    By:  Guest Post — Aug 7th, 2009 at 15:21

    Translated and adapted from Arabic by Khalil Nakhleh

    The following official governmental statistics, up to December 2008, show the disastrous conditions prevalent in Iraq since the American invasion and occupation of that country.

    1.      One million widowed Iraqi women (according to Iraqi Ministry of Women Affairs).

    2.      Four million orphaned Iraqi children (according to estimates by the Iraqi Ministry of Planning).

    3.      Two and a half million (2,500,000) Iraqis killed (according to the Iraqi Ministry of Health and Forensic Medicine).

    4.      800,000 Iraqis have disappeared in secret holding places connected with the different ruling parties (according to registered complaints at the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior).

    5.      340,000 Iraqi prisoners, detained without charge, in U.S. army prisons, the prisons of the Iraqi government, and the prisons in the Kurdistan District (according to Iraqi, Arab, international and UN human rights organizations and agencies).  US occupying forces admit officially that the number of Iraqi detainees in their prisons is about 120,000.

    6.     Four and a half million (4,500,000) Iraqis are refugees outside Iraq (according to statistics of those seeking passports (category C) from the General Directorate of Passports.

    7.      Two and a half million (2,500,000) Iraqis are refugees inside Iraq (according to the Iraqi Ministry of Refugees).

    8.      76,000 registered Iraqi cases of AIDS; this number did not exceed 114 cases before the invasion and occupation of Iraq (according to the Iraqi Ministry of Health).

    Read it all.  

    How can any of us look at these facts and not want to cry and feel sick for what we have done?

  4. … but why is it coming this way and blowing its horn so loud?

    A progressive populist coalition needs to be ahead of the game on this one. Its clear that its going to end badly, and over and above tactics and strategies, what we need to do is how we can extricate ourselves from the Carter Doctrine altogether.

    We live in the a country with roughly twice the biocapacity per capita as the world average, and tremendous opportunities to leverage that in cooperation with the South Atlantic region as a whole …

    … if only we would abandon the losers game if betting it all in the space in between a rising China, its Indian rival, unpredictable Russia, the EU which ten or twenty years of global crisis could easily forge into a federal state, and the heartland of Dar Islam.

    If you were to say, “pick the one part of the globe where an involvement is highly likely to go quite disastrously bad” … no doubt, you’d pick exactly where we “doubling down” on the Carter doctrine.

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