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Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan escalation’

Will The WikiLeaks Saga End The Near 40 Year U.S. Involvement In Afghani Conflict? A Look At The Real Questions Assange Has Brought To The Table.

Is it a signal of the beginning of the end of direct U.S. war in Afghanistan? Is it really a new Pentagon Papers?

On July 31st, 2010, Frank Rich had an interesting op-ed in the New York Times titled, “Kiss This War Goodbye” concerning the recent WikiLeaks release of the Afghanistan war logs. Besides the obvious implications of his title, the reasoning of those implications are linked to the Pentagon Papers and the drawing down to the end of the Vietnam war. In expressing those feelings, he essentially wrote,

The only people that seem to be drawing parallels between Daniel Ellsberg’s Pentagon Papers and Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks document dump are Ellsberg and Assange. The Pentagon Papers didn’t impact the Vietnam War as much as it did the press and the same scenario is likely concerning the WikiLeaks revelations. But the parallel is spot on in that they are narratives on downward trendlines in both wars.

The public is hardly interested anymore and according to a recent CBS News poll, nearly two-thirds think the war is going badly. Add in a Post-ABC News survey that found support of Obama’s handling of the war is at 45 percent with only 43 percent thinking the war is worth it.

It’s hard to argue with any of the op-ed. The information, despite massive enforced secrecy by the U.S. government and two Presidents, revealed precious little to informed people (Fox and right wing radio propaganda afficionados the exception) or to enemies. In fact, the only thing that sticks out is the narrative of nine years of the Afghanistan conflict. That narrative is, of course, one that the United States was just sitting here, uninvolved in Afghanistan and that Osama Bin Laden ordered an attack by plane hijack, on the United States because radical Muslims hated our “freedoms” and Christians and Jews. Since there are closer targets to Afghanistan, or Hamburg Germany where the largely Saudi Arabian contingent of hijackers left from, than the United States that do not have a military garrisoned in 135 countries across the globe and fit those categories, a logical mind would think that rationale a little weak. In fact, the CIA has a term for terrorism, which is “blowback”. But that can be forgiven given the premise of the op-ed that rings true.

As written previously at American Commentary Blog in December of 2009 titled, “Where The U.S. Military Meets Frankensten’s Monster At The Grave Yard Of Conquerors. Obama’s Afghan Decision.” the history and motives are much more involved and long.

As I wrote in 2008 at the DailyKos and the Democratic Underground in a piece titled, “Colonial Wars In A Postcolonial Era (Benazir Bhutto on Iraq)” the Taliban and the groups that ultimately formed al Queda are our “Frankenstein’s monster” by borrowing Benazir Bhutto’s quote

Post cold war imperial ambitions of the U.S. have pushed the Middle East and Central Asia into intolerable peril for these regions the U.S. desires to control for unmatched hegemony. Benazir Bhutto knowing the true nature of the mujahideen coalition even down to each leader of each group and what they were capable of, warned George H.W. Bush in June of 1989, “Mr. President, I fear we have created a Frankenstein that will come back to haunt us” according to her book. The United States, blinded by the Wolfowitz doctrine, has not seen the warning signs until too late. It did not see bin Laden’s rebellion among its jihad network.

and that we should understand the historical background of where we currently find ourselves

The road to 9/11 and its continued bloody aftermath began in earnest at the tail end of the Carter administration when the CIA and Pakistan’s ISI decided it would be a good idea to train and fund a coalition of groups of mujahideen rebels in Afghanistan to give the Soviet backed government of President Mohammed Najibullah more problems than it could handle. For the Pakistani military, the strategy was to provide itself with more reach and influence. For the United States, it was to create a Vietnam type of quagmire for the Soviet Union and its success began when the USSR invaded Afghanistan on Christmas Day, 1979. Ironically, this Soviet quagmire that ultimately led to the implosion of the USSR now threatens us with the same fate.

Of equally important background information is this from The Nation and it’s online blog from 2008 titled, “The Afghan Pipeline You Don’t Know About

Just as Americans were getting used to Big Oil and Iraq, they were hit with revelations on Afghanistan. Did anyone remember in 1999 Unocal providing an all expense paid trip for Taliban officials to the United States (including a trip to Mt. Rushmore) while negotiating a $1.9 billion pipeline bringing Turkmeni natural gas through Afghanistan to Pakistan? What about who was a special consultant to Unocal or the Karzai connection? How about George W. Bush’s neocon ambassador to the U.N. Zalmay Khalilzad being rumored as a future “Afghan” presidential candidate?

The pipeline negotiations broke down for good in August, 2001, one month before “well, you know”. Toronto’s Globe and Mail columnist Lawrence Martin put it, “Washington was furious, leading to speculation it might take out the Taliban. After 9/11, the Taliban, with good reason, were removed — and pipeline planning continued with the Karzai government. U.S. forces installed bases near Kandahar, where the pipeline was to run. A key motivation for the pipeline was to block a competing bid involving Iran, a charter member of the ‘axis of evil.'”

Turns out in April (2008), Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India (TAPI) signed a Gas Pipeline Framework Agreement to build a US supported $7.6 billion pipeline. It would by-pass Iran and energy giant Russia carrying Turkmeni natural gas to Pakistan and India. Construction would begin in 2010 and go through Kandahar right through the heart of Taliban country (think of the additional troop request)

and this news item from the BBC in 2002 titled, “Afghan pipeline given go-ahead” . Also, the blog at The Nation online magazine went on to state Americans would not know these things unless they regularly scan news items from foreign press sources. The question is, is this still about al Queda and the right war (since the US’s own assessments are that there are maybe only about 100 persons connected to the al Queda groups left in Afghanistan) or is this just a continuation of the strategic game of the empire project concerning Central Asian oil and gas trade?

Recently, there has been some press about Pakistan’s ISI being involved with the Taliban and current insurgency. This has been well known by people in the know, especially given that the United States, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia created most of these groups and funded and trained many of them to drive out the Soviet Union. In fact, many sources had connected Pakistan’s ISI officials and the flow of money to 9/11 hijacker Atta. The religious radicalization of many of the groups and their recruits through those years was funded by U.S. taxpayers as revealed in a 2002 report titled “From U.S., the ABC’s of Jihad” in the Washington Post including the textbooks for the religious schools. This was, of course, what the military industrial complex had decided to do in order to control the resources and the flow of oil and natural gas for multi-national corporations since the fall of the Soviet Union leaving many former soviet states in the region to U.S. hegemonic exploitation. There was not going to be a peace dividend following the cold war for the American people if the profiteers were to have their say and they had both political parties on board.

A warning and a choice

A dire warning to the U.S., which is now following the footsteps of the now defunct U.S.S.R., came from former Soviet General Igor Rodionov in an article from 2009 titled “Veterans of Soviet war see same errors by US” by Charles Clover of the Financial Times where he said “they would come, the insurgency would leave, then we would leave, and they would return and it just went around in circles for 10 years”. He said “sending more troops is just going to mean more deaths.” Indeed, Afghanistan throughout history, has shed its would be conquerors. These lessons come amid the recent collapse of the U.S. economy under deregulation and the Bush tax cuts which have deprived the government of billions and if preserved will cost the budget $700 billion in the next decade while state budget cuts have further contracted economic activity. With current budget cuts including shutting down schools to shutting off street lights at night across America or breaking up roads to gravel to avoid the cost of repaving as revealed in pieces by Glenn Greenwald titled “What collapsing empire looks like” and Nobel Prize economist Paul Krugman’s column called “America Goes Dark“, isn’t it time to shift away from tax cuts at the top and the massive spending on the American Security State and imperial priorities of this neocon empire to our millions of unemployed people in dire straits? Isn’t it time to put our priorities back on our people and their welfare before we suffer a fate like that of the Soviet collapse?

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After Karzai’s Speech Where He States U.S. Troops Are Needed For Another 15 To 20 Years, Dennis Kucinich Announces His Intentions To Reinstate Congressional Constitutional Authority Concerning War In 2010. He Plans To Invoke The War Powers Resolution In The Next Session Of Congress Along With Article 1, Section 8 Of The U.S. Constitution.

After the press conference with Secretary of Defense Gates and Afghan President Hamid Karzai in which Karzai says US troops and money will be needed an additional 15 to 20 years, Kucinich (D) Ohio took to the floor of the House to announce his intentions to invoke the powers given Congress concerning war. Citing Article 1, Section 8 which gives Congress the Constitutional power to determine matters of committing this nation to war and troops and material to war zones and also the War Powers Resolution of 1973, he cited the erosion of this authority over the years as the US has moved towards an imperial Presidency, and his plans to reassert these powers in 2010 in the next session of Congress. Doing this would require the executive branch to report to Congress pursuant to 4 a.1 of the War Powers Resolution of 1973. He then circulated a letter to members of the House.

Where The U.S. Military Meets Frankensten’s Monster At The Grave Yard Of Conquerors. Obama’s Afghan Decision.

December 3, 2009 1 comment

Obama’s decision on escalating the conflict in Afghanistan should not come as a surprise. Afterall, candidate Obama said he was going to shift forces to Afghanistan (which he said was the “good war” as opposed to Iraq which was the “bad war”). That however, doesn’t mean that description is complete nor the decision necessarily wise at this point. As I wrote in 2008 at the DailyKos and the Democratic Underground in a piece titled, “Colonial Wars In A Postcolonial Era (Benazir Bhutto on Iraq)” the Taliban and the groups that ultimately formed al Queda are our “Frankenstein’s monster” by borrowing Benazir Bhutto’s quote

Post cold war imperial ambitions of the U.S. have pushed the Middle East and Central Asia into intolerable peril for these regions the U.S. desires to control for unmatched hegemony. Benazir Bhutto knowing the true nature of the mujahideen coalition even down to each leader of each group and what they were capable of, warned George H.W. Bush in June of 1989, “Mr. President, I fear we have created a Frankenstein that will come back to haunt us” according to her book. The United States, blinded by the Wolfowitz doctrine, has not seen the warning signs until too late. It did not see bin Laden’s rebellion among its jihad network.

and that we should understand the historical background of where we currently find ourselves

The road to 9/11 and its continued bloody aftermath began in earnest at the tail end of the Carter administration when the CIA and Pakistan’s ISI decided it would be a good idea to train and fund a coalition of groups of mujahideen rebels in Afghanistan to give the Soviet backed government of President Mohammed Najibullah more problems than it could handle. For the Pakistani military, the strategy was to provide itself with more reach and influence. For the United States, it was to create a Vietnam type of quagmire for the Soviet Union and its success began when the USSR invaded Afghanistan on Christmas Day, 1979. Ironically, this Soviet quagmire that ultimately led to the implosion of the USSR now threatens us with the same fate.

Of equally important background information is this from The Nation and it’s online blog from 2008 titled, “The Afghan Pipeline You Don’t Know About”

…and speaking of oil, just when we were barely getting used to Big Oil and Iraq hitting the front pages of American newspapers in tandem, here comes Afghanistan! Who now remembers that delegation of Taliban officials, shepherded by Unocal (“We’re an oil and gas company. We go where the oil and gas is…”), back in 1999, that made an all-expenses paid visit to the U.S. There was even that side trip to Mt. Rushmore, while the company (with U.S. encouragement) was negotiating a $1.9 billion pipeline that would bring Central Asian oil and natural gas through Afghanistan to Pakistan? Oh, and who was a special consultant to Unocal on the prospective deal? Zalmay Khalilzad, our present neocon ambassador to the U.N., George W. Bush’s former viceroy of Kabul and then Baghdad, and a rumored future “Afghan” presidential candidate.

Those pipeline negotiations only broke down definitively in August 2001, one month before, well, you know… and, as Toronto’s Globe and Mail columnist Lawrence Martin put it, “Washington was furious, leading to speculation it might take out the Taliban. After 9/11, the Taliban, with good reason, were removed — and pipeline planning continued with the Karzai government. U.S. forces installed bases near Kandahar, where the pipeline was to run. A key motivation for the pipeline was to block a competing bid involving Iran, a charter member of the ‘axis of evil.'”

Well, speak of the dead and not-quite-buried. It turns out that, in April, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India (acronymically TAPI) signed a Gas Pipeline Framework Agreement to build a U.S.-backed $7.6 billion pipeline. It would, of course, bypass Iran and new energy giant Russia, carrying Turkmeni natural gas and oil to Pakistan and India. Construction would, theoretically, begin in 2010. Put the emphasis on “theoretically,” because the pipeline is, once again, to run straight through Kandahar and so directly into the heartland of the Taliban insurgency.

and this news item from the BBC in 2002 titled, “Afghan pipeline given go-ahead” . Also, the blog at The Nation online magazine went on to state Americans would not know these things unless they regularly scan news items from foreign press sources. The question is, is this still about al Queda and the right war (since the US’s own assessments are that there are maybe only about 100 persons connected to the al Queda groups left in Afghanistan) or is this just a continuation of the strategic game of the empire project concerning Central Asian oil?

Well let’s look at Obama’s announcement and see how convincing it is and what information is given in it. Author Will Pitt in a post at Democratic Underground said that “President Barack Obama delivered the best speech George W. Bush ever gave in his life.” and went on to say,

It took exactly 130 words for Mr. Obama to invoke the attacks of September 11, which is just about how long it usually took Mr. Bush whenever he unleashed one of his linguistic muggings upon the populace.

Mr. Obama blessed the calamity of Iraq as a success – “We have given Iraqis a chance to shape their future, and we are successfully leaving Iraq to its people,” said the president – which was a favorite habit of Mr. Bush, no matter how brazen facts to the contrary happened to be.

Mr. Obama likewise blessed the recent fraud-riddled election in Afghanistan as a positive thing, despite the cancerous effect that farce of a vote has had on the confidence of the Afghan people. In this, the president echoed Mr. Bush once again, as it was often Mr. Bush’s practice to fete Iraqi elections that were controlled by Iran and riven with violence as successful steps towards democracy.

Mr. Obama re-introduced the American people to the menace of weapons of mass destruction, a favorite note of Mr. Bush. Obama did not go so far as to say that Afghanistan is in possession of 26,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent, 30,000 missiles to deliver the stuff, mobile biological weapons labs, and uranium from Niger for use in a robust nuclear weapons program, as Mr. Bush did during another memorable prime-time speech, but the call to dread was there all the same. The threat of “loose nukes” is indeed real enough, but it was a kick in the stomach to see the Bush Handbook on Fear put into play once again.

Will Pitt seems unconvinced. On the Ed Schultz show, Rep. Eric Massa (D)NY and a member of the Armed Services Committee had this to say when asked if Obama’s speech convinced him,

“NO. And I would have to ask a question: Why 30,000 troops and not 40? Why 30,000 troops and not 20? Why 18 months and not 16 or 24? These are artificial time lines and numbers that have no true military significance as planners sit down and develop what’s called “troop to task” requirements. There is nothing that I heard tonite that would convince me that we are embarking on a strategic mission that is both vital and necessary. We invaded Afghanistan with less than 1,000 special forces personnel and killed or captured over 98% of all the terrorists that we could identify. And now with the remaining few, less than 100 according to the national security adviser, we are going to deploy an army of 100,000 to rebuild a nation?

“The President says, as one of his major points, we are going to act as a partnership with the Afghan government and yet we all know, anyone who has studied it, anyone who has his eyes and ears open, that that government is corrupt beyond malice. I think and I hold strong objection to sending American soldiers into harms’ way and combat to prop up a government that is more corrupt than Tony Soprano and his lieutenants. And so, no, I heard nothing tonight that would sway me against my absolute objection to
what I consider to be a fool’s errand.

Another no from Rep. Massa. And then there is this quote from Rep. Bernie Sanders (I) Vermont,

“Why, in the midst of a severe recession with 17% of our people unemployed
or under-employed and one out of four kids on food stamps — are we going to
be spending $100 Billion a year on Afghanistan when have so many pressing needs
at home?”

Cenk of The Young Turks appeared unconvinced while appearing on Countdown and listening to political double speak of both escalation and withdrawal from Karen Finney

And finally, an ominous undertone from someone who was a part of Afghanistan’s history of being a grave yard for would be conquerors in a Financial Times article

The Soviet 40th Army comprised 120,000 troops at the height of the war, and operations focused on manoeuvring helicopter-borne paratroopers on to mountains, to control high ground, and then moving tanks through the valleys.

In a decade nearly 15,000 Soviet troops lost their lives – and hundreds of thousands of Afghans – in many of the same places that US forces and their allies are struggling to control today: the border regions in the south-east of the country near Pakistan, and the southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmand.

“The war, all 10 years of it, went in circles. We would come and they [the insurgents] would leave. Then we leave, and they would return,” Gen Rodionov said.

General Rodionov went on to say everything that could be tried in Afghanistan has been tried. If there ever was a time to heed lessons from another country’s historic walk into oblivion, this is it.