Afghanistan “sovereignty” May 31, 2011Posted by rogerhollander in Iraq and Afghanistan, War.
Tags: Afghanistan, afghanistan democracy, afghanistan insurgents, afghanistan occupation, afghanistan opinion, afghanistan poll, afghanistan sovereignty, Afghanistan War, civilian casualties, democracy, glenn greenwald, Karzai, NATO, roger hollander, Taliban
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Tuesday, May 31, 2011 07:32 ET
A spate of horrific civilian killings by NATO in Afghanistan has led Afghan President Hamid Karzai to demand that NATO cease all air attacks on homes. That is likely to be exactly as significant you think it would be, as The Los Angeles Times makes clear:
“This should be the last attack on people’s houses,” the president told a news conference in Kabul. “Such attacks will no longer be allowed.”
Karzai’s call was viewed as mainly symbolic. Western military officials cited existing cooperation with Afghan authorities and pledged to continue consultations, but said privately that presidential authority does not include veto power over specific targeting decisions made in the heat of battle.
So we’re in Afghanistan to bring Freedom and Democracy to the Afghan People, but the President of the country has no power whatsoever to tell us to stop bombing Afghan homes. His decrees are simply requests, “merely symbolic.” Karzai, of course, is speaking not only for himself, but even more so for (and under pressure from) the Afghan People: the ones we’re there to liberate, but who — due to their strange, primitive, inscrutable culture and religion — are bizarrely angry about being continuously liberated from their lives: “Karzai’s statements . . . underscored widespread anger among Afghans over the deaths of noncombatants at the hands of foreign forces.”
Indeed, the Afghan People — on whose behalf we are fighting so valiantly — are total ingrates and simply do not appreciate all that we’re doing for them. A poll of Afghan men released earlier this month by the International Council on Security and Development found overwhelming opposition to NATO operations in their country. First there was this in Southern Afghanistan, where most of the fighting has taken place and where we are liberating residents from Taliban tyranny:
There there’s this from Northern Afghanistan, long said to be the region most sympathetic to NATO’s fighting:
The Taliban is widely unpopular among Afghans (though in the South, a majority oppose military operations against them); but whatever else is true, 8 out of 10 men, spread throughout all regions of that country, believe that NATO operations are bad for the Afghan people.
So the decisions of the Afghan President are totally irrelevant (when it conflicts with what we want). The views of the Afghan People are equally irrelevant. But we’re there to bring them Freedom and Democracy (while we decree their elected leaders’ decisions “merely symbolic”) and are fighting for their own good (even though virtually none of them recognize that). What a great war, now America’s longest and close to a decade old.
- More: Glenn Greenwald
NATO Says Attacks on Afghan Houses ‘Necessary,’ Will Continue
A NATO spokesperson says attacks on houses in Afghanistan are necessary and will continue, despite Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s assertion that he will no longer permit them to take place.
A NATO spokesperson says attacks on houses in Afghanistan are necessary and will continue, despite Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s assertion that he will no longer permit them to take place. (AFPTV) Karzai took a hardline stance Tuesday against NATO airstrikes on houses, following an attack over the weekend that claimed the lives of women and children.
NATO officials said the Saturday airstrike in Helmand province left at least nine people dead. Afghan officials, however, said the strike killed 14 people, including at least 10 children and two women.
Karzai said such strikes are not acceptable, and Afghanistan is willing to take “unilateral” action against NATO if they continue.
“From this moment, airstrikes on the houses of people are not allowed,” Karzai told reporters in Kabul.
He said he has repeatedly stressed to Afghanistan’s international allies that deadly airstrikes that claim civilian lives are not acceptable and said if they don’t stop, “the Afghan government will be forced to take unilateral action.”
It wasn’t clear what actions, if any, Karzai, could take against NATO.
“If this is repeated, Afghanistan has a lot of ways of stopping it, but we don’t want to go there. We want NATO to stop the raids on its own, without a declaration … by the Afghan government, because we want to continue to co-operate,” Karzai said.
Hours later, NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu said such airstrikes “continue to be necessary,” though she said NATO takes the Afghan president’s concerns seriously and the alliance always takes measures to limit civilian casualties.
NATO initially said it would review its procedures but emphasized that all such air strikes are done with the co-ordination and approval of the Afghan government.
The organization worded its response carefully, saying “in the days and weeks ahead we will co-ordinate very closely with President Karzai to ensure that his intent is met,” said Maj. Sunset Belinsky, NATO spokesperson.
In the past, Karzai has made strong statements against some NATO tactics, such as night raids, but later backed away from his demands.
Belinsky went on to say that insurgents often use civilians as human shields, and position their bases in neighbourhoods where NATO strikes are all but certain to claim civilian lives.
However, she said NATO will continue to use air strikes against its enemies when that is the only option available.
Karzai’s ultimatum could put his government on a collision course with NATO and specifically, U.S. forces.
On Tuesday he said NATO forces could be seen as an “occupying force” if they don’t respect Afghanistan as a sovereign nation.
The Taliban often refers to the coalition by the same term.
NATO has apologized for the deadly attack on Saturday, saying troops believed the compound they were firing on housed only insurgents.
The attack took place in Nawzad district.
The U.S. Marine commander of the region, Maj. Gen. John Toolan, said NATO ordered the airstrike after a Marine was killed in a nearby insurgent attack.
Five insurgents occupied a compound and continued to attack coalition troops, who called in an airstrike “to neutralize the threat,” Toolan said.
The civilian casualties were later discovered in the house.
In 2010, at least 2,777 civilians were killed in Afghanistan, according to a United Nations report. That number marks an increase of 15 per cent over the previous year.
With files from The Associated Press
Afghan Politics: Let’s Be Real April 29, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Tags: afghanistan constitution, afghanistan corruption, afghanistan democracy, afghanistan drugs, afghanistan occupation, afghanistan opium, Afghanistan War, afghanistan warlords, islamic fundamentalists, Karzai, Karzai government, mujahideen, murray dobbin, obama administration, Petraeus, roger hollander, Taliban, unocal
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Afghanistan president Karzai: ‘blowback’ puppet?
How US promoted corruption while locking out true democracy.
Published: April 22, 2009
The outpouring of Western anger and shock earlier this month over a new Afghan law that legalizes marital rape and confines women to their homes demonstrates how out of touch Western countries are with the monster they have created in that benighted country.
Of course Hamid Karzai would support such a law. He wants to be re-elected president in August and to do so he must support his base: Islamic fundamentalists. Both sides of the conflict are fundamentalist Islamic. There is nothing else.
Indeed, while outrage caused Karzai to say he’d withdraw the law, many doubt he’ll follow through.
Virtually everything that now plagues Afghanistan is “blowback” — the CIA term for unintended consequences of previous policies — from the U.S.-sponsored war against the Soviets in the 1990s. So far, there’s no sign the Obama administration, or Stephen Harper’s, gets that. Just yesterday, U.S. Central Command leader Gen. David Petraeus warned of “tough months ahead” as the U.S. ramps up its fight in Afghanistan, explaining (as if bad luck out of the blue) that the resurging Taliban insurgency is fueled by profits from the global illegal narcotics trade.
The supposed bulwark against them? A Karzai government that is corrupt because it could not possibly have been anything else. Karzai, after all, was handpicked by the U.S. to give a democratic sheen to their occupation, then assisted in his effort to get elected president. But now that the U.S. has given up completely on creating a Western-style democracy, Karzai has become the problem, not the solution. It’s hard to get a reliable puppet these days. Once you put one in place, he wants to stay.
The hell that ideology built
The neo-con geniuses behind the invasion of Afghanistan were strong on ideology but utterly ignorant when it came to history and Afghan political culture. They really thought it would be easy and that’s why Karzai seemed a good bet. A former consultant for U.S. oil giant Unocal, Karzai was part of the late 1990s negotiations between the Taliban and Unocal for a gas pipeline through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India. The U.S. was negotiating with the Taliban until four months before 9-11. They thought a quick victory would put the pipeline back on the agenda.
Karzai, however, had literally no political base amongst the competing tribes in the country. And it is the tribes that fill the “civil society” vacuum in Afghanistan. His support was American money and military force, and Afghan opium producers. Now that the Americans want him out, political support comes almost exclusively from the warlords and opium producers.
But the root of corruption in Afghanistan is not Hamid Karzai. It is the determination of the U.S. to ensure that no future elected government will take democratic governance seriously. While fighting their so-called ”war on terror” and its Islamic fundamentalist ideology, the Americans are even more determined to stop the establishment of a government that would stand for the national interests of the country. That sort of government was entrenched in the articles of the secular constitution established in 1964.
But the U.S. changed that constitution soon after the invasion, and it now states that Islam is supreme: no laws can violate “the sacred religion of Islam.” The new Political Parties Law also states that parties cannot pursue policies that are “contrary to Islam,” which meant that many secular parties were effectively excluded from the 2005 parliamentary elections.
The results were predictable: 133 of the 249 members elected to the House of the People had fought in the vicious internecine Mujahideen war which virtually destroyed Kabul, and fostered the creation of the Taliban. According to the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, “eighty per cent of winning candidates in the provinces and more than 60 per cent in… Kabul have links to armed groups.”
Of course it is also the case that the U.S. sponsored Mujahideen war against the Soviets eliminated thousands of former communist government officials. Communist they may have been but they were also secularists and established a functioning national government with actual social programs, education budgets, human rights (including women’s rights) and health care, as well as a professional army. Many of the secular figures involved ended up dead in the cold war fury unleashed by the U.S. through its proxy fanatics. Civil society was effectively destroyed. Any state that followed would, by definition, be radical Islamic.
Given the results of the 2005 election, the absence of any significant secular culture to draw on, and the need for some semblance of security, Karzai ended up appointing some of the most murderous warlords in the country to senior government posts. One of them was the delightfully named “Butcher of the North,” Abdul Rashid Dostum, appointed to the post of army chief of staff. To call this a government at all is misleading.
Daan Everts, the former NATO special representative in Afghanistan, believes that the U.S. consciously sabotaged genuinely democratic government. The result, says Everts, “has been an extremely chaotic parliament. There are 248 talking heads with very little discipline and little organized deliberations that are meant to produce legislation which the country so badly needs. We deliberately did this.”
When you set up government to fail, you get corruption because government is then seen as simply a way of accumulating personal wealth and power. The notion that 21,000 more U.S. troops, backed by social workers, community developers and police trainers, are going to change things is delusional. Corruption and Islamic authoritarianism are now effectively enshrined in the constitution and the culture, courtesy of U.S. foreign policy.