Posted by rogerhollander in Uncategorized.
Tags: Afghanistan, afghanistan occupation, civilian casualties, hamid karzai, Karzai Expel u.s. Troops, roger hollander, torture, U.s. Afghanistan Torture Allegations, U.s. Troops Torture Wardak Province, Us Troops u.s. Military, Wardak Province, World News
Roger’s note: Imagine Afghan soldiers in New York City accused of “harassing, annoying, torturing and even murdering innocent” American civilians. Imagine an Afghan drone missile landing in a suspected terrorist’s home in suburban Los Angeles killing a dozen women and children.” Do you think President Obama would simply give the Afghan soldiers two weeks to leave? Or would there be massive retaliation? Obama shed tears over the children massacred in Newtown. How, I ask, are the American atrocities any less infamous? Or are Christian American lives of more value than Asian Muslims? Let’s ask Billy Graham.
KABUL, Feb 24 (Reuters) – Afghan President Hamid Karzai has given U.S. special forces two weeks to leave a key battleground province after some U.S. soldiers there were found to have tortured or even killed innocent people, the president’s spokesman said on Sunday.
The decision by Karzai could further complicate negotiations between the United States and Afghanistan over the presence of Americans troops in the country once most NATO forces leave by the end of 2014.
Speaking at a news conference in Kabul, Karzai’s spokesman Aimal Faizi said villagers in Wardak province had lodged a series of complaints about operations conducted by U.S. special forces and a group of Afghans working with them.
The decision was reached at a Sunday meeting of the Afghan National Security Council, chaired by Karzai, Faizi said.
“The Ministry of Defense was assigned to make sure all U.S. special forces are out of the province within two weeks,” he said.
“After a thorough discussion, it became clear that armed individuals named as U.S. special forces stationed in Wardak province were engaging in harassing, annoying, torturing and even murdering innocent people,” Faizi added.
Sunday’s announcement came days after Karzai issued a decree banning all Afghan security forces from using NATO air strikes in residential areas, in a bid to curb civilian casualties.
That was in response to an operation in Kunar targeting four Taliban members which resulted in the deaths of ten civilians, including five children, during an air strike.
Karzai has long warned his Western backers that the killing of civilians could sap support for the foreign troops in the country and fuel the insurgency.
(Reporting by Hamid Shalizi; Writing by Dylan Welch; Editing by Stephen Powell)
Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Iraq and Afghanistan, War, War on Terror.
Tags: afghanistan occupation, Afghanistan War, al-Qaeda, glenn greenwald, Guantanamo, habeas corpus, jed johnson, obama administgration, patriot act, Pentagon, presidential assassination, roger hollander, state secrets, Taliban, terrorism, U.S. imperialism, war on terror, warrantless eavesdropping
Published on Friday, January 4, 2013 by The Guardian
As the Pentagon’s former top lawyer urges that the war be viewed as finite, the US moves in the opposite direction
by Glenn Greenwald
A U.S. Army soldier takes cover as a Black Hawk chopper takes off from a U.S. military base in Arghandab valley near Kandahar. (Photo: Reuters)
Last month, outgoing pentagon general counsel Jeh Johnson gave a speech at the Oxford Union and said that the War on Terror must, at some point, come to an end:
“Now that efforts by the US military against al-Qaida are in their 12th year, we must also ask ourselves: How will this conflict end? . . . . ‘War’ must be regarded as a finite, extraordinary and unnatural state of affairs. We must not accept the current conflict, and all that it entails, as the ‘new normal.’ Peace must be regarded as the norm toward which the human race continually strives. . . .
“There will come a tipping point at which so many of the leaders and operatives of al-Qaida and its affiliates have been killed or captured, and the group is no longer able to attempt or launch a strategic attack against the United States, that al-Qaida will be effectively destroyed.”
On Thursday night, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow interviewed Johnson, and before doing so, she opined as follows:
“When does this thing we are in now end? And if it does not have an end — and I’m not speaking as a lawyer here, I am just speaking as a citizen who feels morally accountable for my country’s actions — if it does not have an end, then morally speaking it does not seem like it is a war. And then, our country is killing people and locking them up outside the traditional judicial system in a way I think we maybe cannot be forgiven for.”
It is precisely the intrinsic endlessness of this so-called “war” that is its most corrupting and menacing attribute, for the reasons Maddow explained. But despite the happy talk from Johnson, it is not ending soon. By its very terms, it cannot. And all one has to do is look at the words and actions of the Obama administration to know this.
There’s no question that this “war” will continue indefinitely. There is no question that US actions are the cause of that, the gasoline that fuels the fire.
In October, the Washington Post’s Greg Miller reported that the administration was instituting a “disposition matrix” to determine how terrorism suspects will be disposed of, all based on this fact: “among senior Obama administration officials, there is broad consensus that such operations are likely to be extended at least another decade.” As Miller puts it: “That timeline suggests that the United States has reached only the midpoint of what was once known as the global war on terrorism.”
The polices adopted by the Obama administration just over the last couple of years leave no doubt that they are accelerating, not winding down, the war apparatus that has been relentlessly strengthened over the last decade. In the name of the War on Terror, the current president has diluted decades-old Miranda warnings; codified a new scheme of indefinite detention on US soil; plotted to relocate Guantanamo to Illinois; increased secrecy, repression and release-restrictions at the camp; minted a new theory of presidential assassination powers even for US citizens; renewed the Bush/Cheney warrantless eavesdropping framework for another five years, as well as the Patriot Act, without a single reform; and just signed into law all new restrictions on the release of indefinitely held detainees.
Does that sound to you like a government anticipating the end of the War on Terror any time soon? Or does it sound like one working feverishly to make their terrorism-justified powers of detention, surveillance, killing and secrecy permanent? About all of this, the ACLU’s Executive Director, Anthony Romero, provided the answer on Thursday: “President Obama has utterly failed the first test of his second term, even before inauguration day. His signature means indefinite detention without charge or trial, as well as the illegal military commissions, will be extended.”
There’s a good reason US officials are assuming the “War on Terror” will persist indefinitely: namely, their actions ensure that this occurs. The New York Times’ Matthew Rosenberg this morning examines what the US government seems to regard as the strange phenomenon of Afghan soldiers attacking US troops with increasing frequency, and in doing so, discovers a shocking reality: people end up disliking those who occupy and bomb their country:
“Such insider attacks, by Afghan security forces on their Western allies, became ‘the signature violence of 2012′, in the words of one former American official. The surge in attacks has provided the clearest sign yet that Afghan resentment of foreigners is becoming unmanageable, and American officials have expressed worries about its disruptive effects on the training mission that is the core of the American withdrawal plan for 2014. . . .
“But behind it all, many senior coalition and Afghan officials are now concluding that after nearly 12 years of war, the view of foreigners held by many Afghans has come to mirror that of the Taliban. Hope has turned into hatred, and some will find a reason to act on those feelings.
“‘A great percentage of the insider attacks have the enemy narrative — the narrative that the infidels have to be driven out — somewhere inside of them, but they aren’t directed by the enemy,’ said a senior coalition officer, who asked not to be identified because of Afghan and American sensitivities about the attacks.”
In other words, more than a decade of occupying and brutalizing that country has turned large swaths of the population into the “Taliban”, to the extent that the “Taliban” means: Afghans willing to use violence to force the US and its allies out of their country. As always, the US – through the very policies of aggression and militarism justified in the name of terrorism – is creating the very “terrorists” those polices are supposedly designed to combat. It’s a pure and perfect system of self-perpetuation.
There is zero reason for US officials to want an end to the war on terror, and numerous and significant reasons why they would want it to continue.
Exactly the same thing is happening in Yemen, where nothing is more effective at driving Yemenis into the arms of al-Qaida than the rapidly escalated drone attacks under Obama. This morning, the Times reported that US air strikes in Yemen are carried out in close cooperation with the air force of Saudi Arabia, which will only exacerbate that problem. Indeed, virtually every person accused of plotting to target the US with terrorist attacks in last several years has expressly cited increasing US violence, aggression and militarism in the Muslim world as the cause.
There’s no question that this “war” will continue indefinitely. There is no question that US actions are the cause of that, the gasoline that fuels the fire. The only question – and it’s becoming less of a question for me all the time – is whether this endless war is the intended result of US actions or just an unwanted miscalculation.
It’s increasingly hard to make the case that it’s the latter. The US has long known, and its own studies have emphatically concluded, that “terrorism” is motivated not by a “hatred of our freedoms” but by US policy and aggression in the Muslim world. This causal connection is not news to the US government. Despite this – or, more accurately, because of it – they continue with these policies.
One of the most difficult endeavors is to divine the motives of other people (divining our own motives is difficult enough). That becomes even more difficult when attempting to discern the motives not of a single actor but a collection of individuals with different motives and interests (“the US government”).
But what one can say for certain is that there is zero reason for US officials to want an end to the war on terror, and numerous and significant reasons why they would want it to continue. It’s always been the case that the power of political officials is at its greatest, its most unrestrained, in a state of war. Cicero, two thousand years ago, warned that “In times of war, the law falls silent” (Inter arma enim silent leges). John Jay, in Federalist No. 4, warned that as a result of that truth, “nations in general will make war whenever they have a prospect of getting anything by it . . . for the purposes and objects merely personal, such as thirst for military glory, revenge for personal affronts, ambition, or private compacts to aggrandize or support their particular families or partisans.”
Only outside compulsion, from citizens, can make an end to all of this possible.
If you were a US leader, or an official of the National Security State, or a beneficiary of the private military and surveillance industries, why would you possibly want the war on terror to end? That would be the worst thing that could happen. It’s that war that generates limitless power, impenetrable secrecy, an unquestioning citizenry, and massive profit.
Just this week, a federal judge ruled that the Obama administration need not respond to the New York Times and the ACLU’s mere request to disclose the government’s legal rationale for why the President believes he can target US citizens for assassination without due process. Even while recognizing how perverse her own ruling was – “The Alice-in-Wonderland nature of this pronouncement is not lost on me” and it imposes “a veritable Catch-22″ – the federal judge nonetheless explained that federal courts have constructed such a protective shield around the US government in the name of terrorism that it amounts to an unfettered license to violate even the most basic rights: “I can find no way around the thicket of laws and precedents that effectively allow the executive branch of our government to proclaim as perfectly lawful certain actions that seem on their face incompatible with our Constitution and laws while keeping the reasons for their conclusion a secret” (emphasis added).
Why would anyone in the US government or its owners have any interest in putting an end to this sham bonanza of power and profit called “the war on terror”? Johnson is right that there must be an end to this war imminently, and Maddow is right that the failure to do so will render all the due-process-free and lawless killing and imprisoning and invading and bombing morally indefensible and historically unforgivable.
But the notion that the US government is even entertaining putting an end to any of this is a pipe dream, and the belief that they even want to is fantasy. They’re preparing for more endless war; their actions are fueling that war; and they continue to reap untold benefits from its continuation. Only outside compulsion, from citizens, can make an end to all of this possible.
© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited
Glenn Greenwald is a columnist on civil liberties and US national security issues for the Guardian. A former constitutional lawyer, he was until 2012 a contributing writer at Salon. His most recent book is, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful. His other books include: Great American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myths of Republican Politics, A Tragic Legacy: How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency, and How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values from a President Run Amok. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism.
Posted by rogerhollander in Iraq and Afghanistan, War.
Tags: Afghanistan, afghanistan occupation, Afghanistan War, afghnaistan history, anti-war, imperialism, march forward, roger hollander, Taliban, veterans
Politicians sanctimoniously condemn war crime while prolonging the war
January 17, 2012
Barely scratching the surface of war crimes in Afghanistan.
The people of Afghanistan have endured over ten years of death and destruction at the hands of the U.S. military.
The graphic video going viral of U.S. Marines urinating on corpses in Afghanistan—a war crime under international law—is forcing people in the United States to face the reality of the war.
The video is emblematic of what the U.S. military has been doing to the people of Afghanistan for over ten years.
As combat veterans and active-duty members of the U.S. military, we feel we should weigh in…
1.Urinating is wrong, but bullets are okay? Yes, the video is “shocking” to most. But the politicians, talking heads and media outlets who call it “shocking” and “deplorable” will not use those same words to describe the war itself.
It would be laughable, if not so tragic, that the Pentagon strongly denounced the video, and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta says he “condemns it in the strongest possible terms.” Panetta and the Pentagon officials then left the press conference to continue overseeing the destruction of Afghanistan. Any lip service from Washington or its apologists, from where the mass murder in Afghanistan is being orchestrated, is a complete joke.
There is so much apparent concern over the sanctity of life after these Afghan men were killed. But they should never have been killed in first place. They were only lying dead on the ground because the U.S. government used the 9/11 attacks—in which the people of Afghanistan played no role—as a pretext to launch a full scale invasion to conquer a resource-rich, independent country that they had been trying to dominate for years. This is a war that all polls show is opposed by the U.S. public, U.S. troops and the people of Afghanistan.
2. There is no such thing as “good conduct” in an immoral war. The dehumanization in the video isn’t shocking to those of us who have seen the reality of the wars wages by the U.S. government. But the reactions to the video from most beg the question: what did people think was going on over there? Passing out candy and building schools?
The video is a dose of reality. Its content reveals less than a minute of the war—just one minute in what has been going on for over ten years. Imagine how many such incidents will never be known. And not just acts of desecration, but the acts that are accepted as necessary by the generals and politicians: dropping missiles on houses from robots in the sky, artillery barrages on villages, torture at Bagram Airbase, shooting “suspected insurgents” for carrying a shovel or pushing a wheelbarrow.
This is a colonial-type war, a war for empire, a war for resources and profits. The war itself is a crime. With that foundation, it is only inevitable that even more war crimes will grow out of a criminal war.
3. The inhumanity goes back decades. U.S. involvement in Afghanistan—the second poorest country on the planet— goes back far beyond the bombing and invasion in 2001. And it has never been for humanitarian reasons. Throughout the 70’s, during Afghanistan’s brief progressive period, the CIA pumped billions of dollars to sponsor right-wing militias. These elements attacked women’s schools, slaughtered hundreds of teachers initiating major literacy programs, and carried out a reign of terror on those in Afghanistan deemed “enemies” of the so-called “national interests” of the U.S. government. As Afghanistan was trying to lift itself from feudalism, the will of the people was crushed by the CIA and its Mujahadeen partners.
Those reactionary political groups funded and armed by the CIA continued to receive that support as they committed further atrocities, and as they became the Taliban, who we are now told we must fight and die endlessly to defeat. The Taliban leadership received funding from the CIA up until September 11, 2001. During this phase, the political character of Afghanistan’s government meant nothing to the U.S. government—what mattered to them was the possibility of a business deal that would allow massive oil pipelines through the country. But negotiations were not going as planned for Wall Street, so the 9/11 attacks provided a pretext for the classic tactic used to straighten out nations who will not open up their markets for plunder: all-out military force.
For over ten years, the people of Afghanistan have lived under a brutal occupation. In just the first month of the war, more civilians were killed by U.S. bombs than died in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. But the blood had just started flowing. Tens of thousands of innocent civilians are dead at the hands of the U.S. military. Tens of thousands are orphaned, widowed, maimed and homeless. Civilian deaths in Afghanistan are now the highest they have been compared to every other year of the war.
The people of Afghanistan have endured more than a decade of bombings, night raids, torture, a corrupt puppet government and a foreign occupation of more than 100,000 troops and mercenaries from the world’s biggest and most destructive military machine. The U.S. occupation has been a complete catastrophe for the people of Afghanistan, which is why they overwhelmingly want us out. Even Afghans who strongly oppose the Taliban site the U.S. occupation as the main cause of the country’s problems and violence.
4. Afghanistan has the right to resist occupation. The people of Afghanistan who are now suffering under the weight of the U.S. military machine played no role whatsoever in the 9/11 attacks. In fact, when young Afghan men were polled in Kandahar and Helmand province—the location where the video of the Marines was film—it was found that over 90 percent of them had never even heard of the World Trade Center or the 9/11 attacks. The majority of those polled believe the U.S. military is in Afghanistan simply for “violence and destruction.”
The media unquestioningly report that the Marines urinated on dead “Taliban insurgents.” Yet, there are no weapons laid-out next to the bodies, which have been searched, as is standard practice—only a wheelbarrow, in a country almost entirely dependent on an agricultural economy. The claim that these men died after attacking U.S. forces is accepted as fact. This is a bizarre assertion, considering all the other ongoing scandals in Afghanistan involving U.S. forces killing innocent civilians—from the “Kill Team,” to the notorious night raids that every Afghan fears, to Apache helicopters cutting down children one-by-one. Such racist atrocities flow from the Pentagon’s racist, Islamophobic propaganda that dehumanizes the people targeted by the U.S. war machine—the lie that if Afghans are killed, they must have deserved it—which has become the dominant narrative.
But, if these men were in fact killed during a firefight with the Marines, does that justify their deaths? Whose home is Afghanistan, that of the dead men or the Marines? Whose country has been bombed, invaded, and occupied for over ten years? Do the victims of illegal foreign aggression not have the right to resist?
As troops who have been to war and seen the reality, we understand why people living under occupation take up arms to kick us out. We know that we would be doing the same thing if we were in their position. In fact, our experiences have shown us that that we actually have more in common with them than with the millionaire politicians and Pentagon generals telling us to fight. Whoever the dead men are, they are not the “bad guys.” They are the victims of a criminal war of aggression.
5. End the war now! There is no kinder, gentler war in Afghanistan. This video is just a small glimpse of its ugly face. The video has revealed to millions of people in the United States what their tax dollars are paying for. At a time when 40 million people in the United States are out of work, when millions are being cut from heating assistance, social programs, food assistance—when tuition is skyrocketing, layoffs increasing, budgets being gutted—the U.S. government is pouring our tax dollars into a war that 2/3 of the population is against.
This is an endless war, a war the politicians and generals acknowledge they cannot win. They agree that the U.S. presence there will last “the rest of our lives, and the rest of our children’s lives.” This is a war for profits, for a tiny clique of Wall Street CEOs, defense contractors and shareholders. The type of conduct in this video will be repeated over and over; our friends and loved ones will die and be maimed endlessly; our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan will suffer endlessly.
The Pentagon brass have vowed to find the culprits shown in the video and punish them severely. And they should be. But they do not condemn the culture of racist propaganda that promotes and fosters such war crimes, nor will they end the war which allows the killing to continue, with or without the desecration of corpses. The leaders at the top, from whom this behavior consciously flows, should be punished as well.
The video should be a clarion call to all people to demand an immediate, complete withdrawal of all US/NATO forces from Afghanistan. And this little glimpse into the inhumanity unleashed on the people of Afghanistan shows that we not only need to end the war immediately, but pay heavy reparations to the victims of this criminal war.
6. Troops have the right to refuse their orders. The war in Afghanistan is a war for the 1%. In Wall Street’s relentless pursuit of new raw materials and new sources of profits, they have literally thrown away the lives of us and our friends, and unleashed untold suffering on an entire population. The people of Afghanistan are not our enemies; but those millionaires and billionaires, who keep the war raging endlessly, are.
We have a right to not be used as cannon fodder in Wall Street’s attempt to conquer new markets. We have a right to not be party to an occupation that constitutes a great crime against humanity.
Everyday, more and more active-duty troops are excercising their right to refuse to take part in the unpopular, immoral war in Afghanistan. If you’re interested in doing the same, click here for information and support.
Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Iraq and Afghanistan, War.
Tags: Afghanistan, afghanistan occupation, Afghanistan War, answer coalition, Iraq, Iraq occupation, Iraq war, Obama, roger hollander, war
It is necessary to separate fact from fiction regarding the announcement by the Obama administration that it is removing “combat brigades” from Iraq.
This is not the time for progressive people to pat themselves on the back, claim “victory” and pretend that the U.S. government is pursuing a different policy than that which was carried out by the previous administration.
Today’s announcement that renames the 50,000 U.S. troops in Iraq is nothing more than the rebranding of the illegal U.S. occupation of Iraq that began with the criminal invasion of the country by hundreds of thousands of U.S. forces on March 20, 2003. Let’s remember, the goal of the Bush administration, too, was not to keep a certain number of U.S. troops in Iraq forever, but instead to exercise U.S. domination over the country and the region.
The Obama administration has maintained the principal military and civilian leaders from the Bush administration. The withdrawal of some combat brigades from Iraq is essentially a redeployment exercise so that tens of thousands more U.S. troops can be sent to Afghanistan.
Since Bush left office, and contrary to the deep desire of the masses of people who constituted the electoral base for President Obama’s November 2008 victory, the U.S. military machine has grown, not diminished. The U.S. military budget has actually increased, not decreased.
The ongoing occupation of Iraq, the escalation of the war in Afghanistan, the increasing threats against Iran, and the enduring U.S.-Israeli war directed against the Palestinian people are all clear indicators that U.S. foreign policy and its military strategy are premised on the pursuit and maintenance of Empire regardless of whether the Democrats or the Republicans occupy the White House.
When he delivered his major address in Cairo on June 4, 2009, President Obama described the war in Iraq as a “war of choice.” That is simply popular vernacular for a war of aggression. The reality of his position, however, was revealed today when President Obama actually called George W. Bush to confer with him in advance of tonight’s address on Iraq. Tonight, President Obama took the occasion to salute Bush as a “patriot” with “love of country and commitment to our security.” George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and other high officials in the Bush administration should be indicted and prosecuted for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The invasion and ongoing occupation of Iraq has shredded Iraqi sovereignty and “succeeded” in killing as many as 1 million Iraqis. The invasion and ongoing occupation has succeeded in ripping apart a once-united country. It is the U.S. invasion that stoked a sectarian civil war. It was a deliberate and conscious policy by the U.S. occupation forces to organize, finance and arm Iraqis along ethno-sectarian lines in order to weaken the nationwide resistance of the people against foreign occupation.
The thousands of organizers and volunteers who have worked with the ANSWER Coalition in organizing mass protests and nearly daily activities in cities throughout the country for the past nine years believe that the U.S. should end all of its foreign occupations, and that the people in Iraq and Afghanistan must have the right of self determination.
The struggle for jobs, social justice, equality and freedom at home cannot be separated from the international struggle against empire, colonialism and war. Last Saturday, Glenn Beck and the forces of right-wing racism tried to hijack the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the millions of people who fought, organized—including for some going to jail and giving their life—in the struggle against racism at home and war abroad. We must take note of the fact that the forces of right-wing racism and militarism are mobilizing throughout the country. Their demagogic attacks against the Obama administration are nothing more than a cover for their real agenda.
We in the ANSWER Coalition believe that it is imperative that all those in the anti-war movement, labor and civil rights movements and others come together in a massive mobilization on Oct. 2 in Washington, D.C., for jobs, peace and justice. Only the mobilization of the people, and not the politicians, can radically change the political climate. When we march together on Oct. 2, we must raise high the banners of “U.S. out of Iraq now,” “End the occupation of Afghanistan Now” and “Money for jobs, schools, health care and housing, not war and occupation.”
Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Iraq and Afghanistan, War.
Tags: Afghanistan, afghanistan invasion, afghanistan occupation, afghanistan troops, aghanistan civil war, aghanistan surge, al-Qaeda, cross of iron, cvilian casualties, eisenhower, general james jones, just war, obama nobel, Ralph Nader, roger hollander, Taliban, war
President Obama, the Afghan war escalator, received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway, and proceeded to deliver his acceptance speech outlining the three criteria for a “just war” which he himself is violating.The criteria are in this words: “If it is waged as a last resort or in self-defense; if the force used is proportional; and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence.”
After 9/11, warmonger George W. Bush could have used the international law doctrine of hot pursuit with a multilateral force of commandoes, linguists and bribers to pursue the backers of the attackers. Instead, he blew the country of Afghanistan apart and started occupying it, joined forces with a rump regime and launched a divide-and-rule tribal strategy that set the stage for a low-tiered civil war.
Eight years later, Obama is expanding the war within a graft-ridden government in Kabul, fraudulent elections, an Afghan army of northern tribesmen loathed by the southern and south-eastern tribes of 40 million Pashtuns, an impoverished economy whose largest crop by far is a narcotic, and a devastated population embittered by foreign occupiers and non-existent government services.
President Obama’s national security adviser, former Marine General James Jones, said two months ago: “The al-Qaeda presence is very diminished. The maximum estimate is less than 100 operating in the country, no bases, no ability to launch attacks on either us or our allies.”
Since Mr. Obama repeats George W. Bush’s reason for going into Afghanistan-to destroy al-Qaeda-why is he sending 30,000 soldiers plus an even greater number of corporate contractors there in the near future at a cost stated by the White House of one million dollars per solider per year? Is this “proportional force”?
Always small in number, al-Qaeda has moved over the border into Pakistan and anywhere its supporters can in the world-east Africa, north Africa, Indonesia. The gang is a migrant traveler.
Is Obama pouring soldiers into Afghanistan so that they and our inaccurate, civilian-destroying drones can start fighting across the border in Pakistan, as indicated by The New York Times? Beyond the violations of international law and absence of constitutional authorization involved, this could so roil Pakistanis as to make the U.S. experience next door look like a modest struggle.
Obama has emphasized weakening the Taliban as the other objective of our military buildup with its horrible consequence in casualties and other costs. Who are the Taliban? They include people with different causes, such as protecting their valleys, drug trafficking to live on, fighters against foreign occupiers or, being mostly Pashtuns, protecting their tribal turf against the northern Tajiks and Uzbecks.
How many Taliban fighters are there? The Pentagon estimates around 25,000. Their methods make them unpopular with the villagers. They have no air force, navy, artillery, tanks, missiles, no bases, no central command. They have rifles, grenade launchers, bombs and suiciders. Unlike al-Qaeda, they have only domestic ambitions counteracted by their adversarial tribesmen who make up most of the Afghan army.
Robert Baer, former CIA officer with experience in that part of Asia, asserted: “The people that want their country liberated from the West have nothing to do with al-Qaeda. They simply want us gone because we’re foreigners, and they’re rallying behind the Taliban because the Taliban are experienced, effective fighters.”
To say as Obama inferred in his Oslo speech that the greater plunge into Afghanistan is self-defense, with proportional force and sparing civilians from violence is a scale of self-delusion or political cowardliness that is dejecting his liberal base.
For as President Eisenhower stated so eloquently in his 1953 “cross of iron” speech, every dollar spent on munitions and saber-rattling takes away from building schools, clinics, roads and other necessities of the American people.
The Afghan War and the Iraq war-occupation-already directly costing a trillion dollars-are costing the American people every time Washington says there is not enough money for neonatal care, occupational disease prevention, cleaner drinking water systems, safer hospitals, prosecution of corporate criminals, cleaner air or upgrading and repairing key public facilities.
Even the hardiest and earliest supporters of his presidential campaign in 2008 are speaking out. Senior members of the Congressional Black Caucus, such as John Conyers (D-MI) and Maxine Waters (D-CA) have recently criticized the President for not doing enough to help African-Americans weather the hard times.
In a stinging ironic rebuke to the first African-American President, Rep. Waters declared “We can no longer afford for our public policy to be defined by the worldview of Wall Street.”
According to Congressman Conyers, an upset Barack Obama called to ask why the Michigan lawmaker was “demeaning” him. Conyers has been increasingly turned off by the President’s policies-among them health care reform, the war in Afghanistan, slippage on Guantanamo and the extension of the Patriot Act’s invasive provisions.
The 80-year old Congressman spent most weekends in 2007 and 2008 tirelessly on the campaign trail trying to get Obama elected.
White House aides are not troubled by the rumblings from the moderate Left. They said they have all of 2010 to bring them back into the fold by the November Congressional elections. Besides, where else are they going to go?
Well, they could stay home. Remember 1994 and the Gingrich takeover.