Sunday, February 08, 2009

Obama Needs to Rethink American & NATO Presence in Afghanistan

Obama & Afghanistan
Clash of Civilizations

Anyway will President Obama continue Bush's War on Terror using massive military force in pursuit of a few thousand criminals or will he bring a new perspective and approach to dealing with terrorism. On 9/11 no country declared war on the US. It was the US that declared war on terrorism as if it represented a country. Bush unfortunately claimed it was a crusade against all those who hated America. By putting the problem in hyped up religious terminology he made it seem that this was a fight between Christianity and Islam. The actual fight was between the US and a group of fanatics who happened to be Muslims. If the terrorists had been Hindu extremists would Bush have declared war on India and all Hindus around the globe.

Or when domestic terrorist Tomothy McVeigh blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City the US government didn't go out and arrests thousands of other Americans who were sympathetic to his cause nor did the US military carpet bomb the area from which Timothy McVeigh had come from. Nor did the US government go after every media outlet which allowed ultraconservative talk-radio hosts to spew their irrational propaganda which may have influenced Timothy McVeigh or others who held similar extremists beliefs.

Or consider the problem the British government had with dealing with their domestic terrorists the IRA. If they followed the Bush doctrine the British could have justified carpet bombing of Northern Ireland or even of the Republic of Ireland -Eire- since some money and arms were coming through the Republic and into Belfast. It is also well known that much of the funding for the IRA came from American donors. If that was the case should Britain have set up a blockade to prevent American ships or planes from entering Northern Ireland or even the United Kingdom or should Britain have declared war on the United States . Should America agreed to mass arrests of Irish Americans especially those in New York City.

But of course Bush and Cheney and company had an agenda they wished to pursue. Part of this agenda was to bring down once and for all Saddam. But Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11 . So they cooked up some intel about non-existent WMDs so they could justify an invasion of Iraq. Six years later over one million Iraqis have been killed and over four thousand American soldiers have died all based on lies and propaganda.It was supposed to be a cake-walk but it didn't turn out that way.

Now Obama wants to put more troops into Afghanistan as if more soldiers will solve all the problems now facing Afghanistan. As we see in the articles below there is a real need to rethink the strategy and tactics to be used in Afghanistan. There needs to be more dialogue with all the parties concerned in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Reasonable goals need to be developed and spelled out. The peoples of Afghanistan need to be reassured that the aim of the US and NATO is not to occupy and conquer Afghanistan as part of America's or the West's desire to make Afghanistan into a colony with some sort of puppet regime in power.

As Deepak Chopra argues:

" ...The United Nations and NATO must rally to carry out the humanitarian goals that need to be pursued. But that's not the same as deluding ourselves into believing that we are defeating terrorism. Bush's war on terror was a horrendous mistake, an ideological delusion and a failed tactic. It alienated most of the world and created as many extremists as it defeated. Obama knows all this. Now it's time for him to lead us out of a self-created quagmire. The United States can't have it both ways, talking peace but maintaining a hostile military presence in the region, neither Pakistan, nor Afghanistan has a government seen as legitimate by its population. Neither has the ability, or the national will to police its borders, or seriously confront extremism, or foreign fighters. History has already taught us how these endeavors end, and they do not end well. No matter how just our cause, we are seen as aggressors, and may just as likely suffer the death of a thousand cuts, just like Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, the British Empire and the Soviet Union. Without establishing a foundation of legitimacy, and hope, or any semblance of the rule of law, a purely military strategy will likely be defeated in the end... "

see: Why Military Responses to Terror Attacks Are Always Doomed to Fail By Deepak Chopra and Ken Robinson, AlterNet. Feb. 6, 2009.

Many of the European nations as members of NATO are not convinced that sending more troops into Afghanistan is the right way to proceed. They would in fact prefer to pull out of Afghanistan altogether. They are also in disagreement with some of the tactics and goals which the Obama administration is in favor of as we see in the article below:

Afghanistan Appeal May Temper European Allies' Ardor for Obama By Craig Whitlock Washington Post , Feb. 6, 2009

...The Obama administration is expected to announce plans to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, where the United States and its allies fear they are losing ground in the war against the Taliban. Although European leaders say they are eager to curry favor with the new U.S. president, they are proving just as reluctant to contribute more soldiers or money to the NATO-led operation as they were during President George W. Bush's last years in the White House.

French Defense Minister Hervé Morin said last month that "there is no question, for now, of considering extra reinforcements" from Paris. Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said his country would start drawing down its 1,770 troops in Afghanistan next year. German officials have also ruled out sending more soldiers beyond a parliamentary decision last year to expand the force to 4,500.

...U.S. and European military officials are deeply divided on some key issues. For example, the Pentagon wants to take a harder line against opium growers and drug kingpins in Afghanistan, a major source of cash for the Taliban.

Many European countries advocate a softer approach, with some officials calling for a temporary legalization of opium production to avoid alienating Afghan farmers who grow poppies.

The conflict turned into a public spat last week when German news media reported on a leaked memo from U.S. Army Gen. John Craddock, the supreme allied commander in Europe, in which he urged NATO soldiers to attack drug producers and labs throughout Afghanistan, regardless of whether they support the Taliban.

European lawmakers and military officials reacted angrily, saying that Craddock was overstepping NATO's rules of engagement. In a statement, NATO characterized Craddock's memo as "general guidance," adding: "He has not, and never has, issued illegal orders."

Although many European countries are calling for a greater focus on humanitarian aid, training and reconstruction in Afghanistan, progress on those fronts has been plagued by inefficiency and a lack of coordination, according to many U.S. and European officials.

As Tom Engelhardt points out Afghanistan has historically been the bane and a dead end for previous empires including the Soviet Union and the British Empire.
But when it comes to Afghanistan American Hubris knows no bounds-

" Tomgram: The Empire v. The Graveyard Whistling Past the Afghan Graveyard Where Empires Go to Die "
By Tom Engelhardt Feb. 5, 2009.

...It's here, of course, that things get eerie. I mean, not just a graveyard, but the same two superpowers and the very same graveyard. In November 2001, knowing intimately what had happened to the USSR in Afghanistan, the Bush administration invaded anyway -- and with a clear intent to build bases, occupy the country, and install a government of its choice.

When it comes to the neocon architects of global Bushism, hubris remains a weak word. Breathless at the thought of the supposed power of the U.S. military to crush anything in its path, they were blind to other power realities and to history. They equated power with the power to destroy.

Believing that the military force at their bidding was nothing short of invincible, and that whatever had happened to the Soviets couldn't possibly happen to them, they launched their invasion. They came, they saw, they conquered, they celebrated, they settled in, and then they invaded again -- this time in Iraq. A trillion dollars in wasted taxpayer funds later, we look a lot more like the Russians.

as for Obama:

For all their differences with Bush's first-term neocons, here's what the Obama team still has in common with them -- and it's no small thing: they still think the U.S. won the Cold War. They still haven't accepted that they can't, even if in a subtler fashion than the Busheviks, control how this world spins; they still can't imagine that the United States of America, as an imperial power, could possibly be heading for the exits.


After all, more than a trillion dollars later, with essentially nothing to show except an unbroken record of destruction, corruption, and an inability to build anything of value, the U.S. is only slowly drawing down its 140,000-plus troops in Iraq to a "mere" 40,000 or so, while surging yet more troops into Afghanistan to fight a counterinsurgency war, possibly for years to come. At the same time, the U.S. continues to expand its armed forces and to garrison the globe, even as it attempts to bail out an economy and banking system evidently at the edge of collapse. This is a sure-fire formula for further disaster -- unless the new administration took the unlikely decision to downsize the U.S. global mission in a major way.

Paul Craig Roberts argues that the War On Terror is more a matter of propaganda than an actual threat to the US:

The War on Terror is a Hoax By Paul Craig Roberts Information Clearing House Feb. 4, 2009

-- - According to US government propaganda, terrorist cells are spread throughout America, making it necessary for the government to spy on all Americans and violate most other constitutional protections. Among President Bush’s last words as he left office was the warning that America would soon be struck again by Muslim terrorists.

If America were infected with terrorists, we would not need the government to tell us. We would know it from events. As there are no events, the US government substitutes warnings in order to keep alive the fear that causes the public to accept pointless wars, the infringement of civil liberty, national ID cards, and inconveniences and harassments when they fly.

The most obvious indication that there are no terrorist cells is that not a single neocon has been assassinated.

The unsupported assertion that Iran supplies sophisticated arms to the Palestinians is like the unsupported assertion that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. These assertions are propagandistic justifications for killing Arab civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure in order to secure US and Israeli hegemony in the Middle East.

And William Blum fears that with Obama in charge the American Empire will march onward believing it has the right and the power to control much of the globe :

" Change (In Rhetoric) We Can Believe In " By William Blum Feb. 4, 2009

-- - The Obama administration will not produce any significantly worthwhile change in US foreign policy; little done in this area will reduce the level of misery that the American Empire regularly brings down upon humanity. And to the extent that Barack Obama is willing to clearly reveal what he believes about anything controversial, he appears to believe in the empire.

The Obamania bubble should already have begun to lose some air with the multiple US bombings of Pakistan within the first few days following the inauguration. The Pentagon briefed the White House of its plans, and the White House had no objection. So bombs away — Barack Obama's first war crime. The dozens of victims were, of course, all bad people, including all the women and children. As with all these bombings, we'll never know the names of all the victims — It's doubtful that even Pakistan knows — or what crimes they had committed to deserve the death penalty. Some poor Pakistani probably earned a nice fee for telling the authorities that so-and-so bad guy lived in that house over there; too bad for all the others who happened to live with the bad guy, assuming of course that the bad guy himself actually lived in that house over there.

The new White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, declined to answer questions about the first airstrikes, saying "I'm not going to get into these matters."1 Where have we heard that before?

After many of these bombings in recent years, a spokesperson for the United States or NATO has solemnly declared: “We regret the loss of life.” These are the same words used by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) on a number of occasions, but their actions were typically called “terrorist”.

And Jim Lobe argues that if Obama continues with the Bush approach and doctrine Afghanistan will become a quagmire for the Americans and NATO. What is needed is a drawing down of troops and more of emphasis on humanitarian aid and helping rebuild parts of Afghanistan with the cooperation of the various peoples and groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan such as the Pashtun . The Pashtun number some forty million people who live on both sides of the border and who do not recognize the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. They are a nation made up of hundreds of tribes whose belief in honor makes them resistant to a military force which they see as an occupying force of a foreign empire.

" More Troops, More Worries, Less Consensus on Afghanistan " by Jim Lobe Inter Press Service Feb. 2009

Even as U.S. President Barack Obama prepares to deploy more military forces to Afghanistan - what he has called "the central front" in former President George W. Bush's "global war on terror" - a consensus on overall U.S. strategy there remains elusive.

Even Washington's precise war aims in Afghanistan more than seven years after U.S.-backed forces chased the Taliban out of the country appear subject to continuing debate, as, in the face of what virtually all analysts and officials concede is a deteriorating situation, the Pentagon is actively downgrading the Bush administration's hopes of ushering in a thriving democracy to something far less ambitious.

... fears that Afghanistan could become a "new Vietnam", a deadly quagmire in which already overstretched U.S. forces could become bogged down in an unwinnable war, have gained sudden new currency in the mass media.


...In a new report released Tuesday by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Gilles Dorronsoro, a French expert on South Asia, argued that adding troops would actually be counter-productive because the mere presence of foreign soldiers in Pashtun areas has fueled the Taliban's resurgence and that the best way to weaken it is to reduce military confrontations. In that respect, "the only meaningful way to halt the insurgency's momentum is to start withdrawing troops."

Indeed, Dorronsoro argues, as do other critics, that most effective way to ensure that Afghan territory is not used as a base to attack the U.S. is to "de-link" the Taliban from al Qaeda, "which is based mostly in Pakistan."

"We will be in a much better position to fight al Qaeda if we don't have to fight the Afghans," he said. "We have to stop fighting the Taliban because it is the wrong enemy."

and so it goes,

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