The Unanswered Question in Afghanistan: Why?

June 30, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Jim Hightower

America’s long, long war in Afghanistan has drained more than 1,500 precious lives and a trillion dollars from our country. But, finally, this enormous outlay paid off this year with the capture and killing of that al-Qaida demon, Osama bin Laden, who attacked America and was the reason our military went into Afghanistan.

Oh, wait — Osama wasn’t in Afghanistan, was he? He was comfortably ensconced in an urban compound in Pakistan, whose leaders are supposedly our allies in the bloody Afghan War. And it wasn’t the war effort that got bin Laden, it was old-time spy work, culminating in a raid involving a small team of Navy Seals, a dog and two helicopters.

So why have two presidents and a decade of Congress dumped so many lives and so much money into a country that poses no threat to us? Afghanistan is an impoverished, anarchic, largely illiterate land that’s split into ancient tribal factions and innumerable fiefdoms controlled by rival warlords. They have no desire or ability to attack us, some 8,000 miles away.

The only reason we’re given for being in Afghanistan is that we must keep the al-Qaida terrorists network from establishing bases there. But — like bin Laden — al-Qaida left this country years ago and now operates transnationally in Pakistan, Yemen, Uzbekistan and elsewhere, including England and Germany.

Yet, we’re told we must continue to pour American lives, dollars and reputation into Afghanistan. But … why? To create a central, democratically elected government with a 300,000-member army and police force, we’re told. But why? To stabilize the country, they say. But, why? To keep al-Qaida out, they repeat, closing the endless loop on a Kafkaesque rational.

Yes, President Obama has finally started a slow withdrawal of U.S. troops, but that’ll take at least three years, more than $300 billion and untold numbers of shattered lives. The questions remains: Why?

At least one person was giddy with excitement upon hearing President Obama’s announcement on June 22 that all of America’s combat troops would depart from Afghanistan by 2014: Hamid Karzai.

“A moment of happiness for Afghanistan,” exulted the incurably corrupt, inept, weak and pompous Afghan president. Our leaders put this ingrate in power, and both the lives of our soldiers and billions of our tax dollars have been spent to prop up his sorry excuse for a government — yet he’s the one saying “good riddance.” It puts the dumb in dumbfounding.

The dumbest and most shameful aspect of America’s 10-year Afghan War is the pretension that Karzai represents an exercise in democracy-building. Installed in the presidency by dictate of the Bush-Cheney regime in 2002, he is widely despised and ridiculed by the people and has clung to power only through flagrant electoral fraud, not only in his two presidential “elections,” but also in last year’s parliamentary contest.

Karzai was PO’d that 62 candidates he favored lost or were disqualified by the country’s independent election commission because of fraud. So, Hamid haughtily set up his own special court to review those results, while also bringing criminal charges against several of the independent election commissioners.

Last week, only one day after Obama’s withdrawal announcement, Karzai’s kangaroo court disqualified the 62 parliamentary winners, replacing them with his chosen ones. Of course, the 62 winners are refusing to budge from their seats. This has created a governmental stalemate, but that suits Karzai perfectly, for it allows him the defacto power to rule without parliament. As a top opposition leader puts it: “Karzai does not believe in the rule of law; he thinks democracy doesn’t work in his favor.”

It’s both insane and immoral for our leaders to cause even one more American to die for Karzai. Tell Obama to bring all of our troops home, pronto. The White House comment line is (202) 456-1111, or www.whitehouse.gov/contact.

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What Lies Beneath the War in Afghanistan

December 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Eric Margolis, Sun Media

Truth is war’s first casualty. The Afghan war’s biggest untruth is, “we’ve got to fight terrorists over there so we don’t have to fight them at home.”

Many North Americans still buy this lie because they believe the 9/11 attacks came directly from the Afghanistan-based al-Qaida and Taliban movements.

False. The 9/11 attacks were planned in Germany and Spain, and conducted mainly by U.S.-based Saudis to punish America for supporting Israel.

Taliban, a militant religious, anti-Communist movement of Pashtun tribesmen, was totally surprised by 9/11. Taliban received U.S. aid until May, 2001. The CIA was planning to use Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida to stir up Muslim Uighurs against Chinese rule, and Taliban against Russia’s Central Asian allies.

Al-Qaida only numbered 300 members. Most have been killed. A handful escaped to Pakistan. Only a few remain in Afghanistan. Yet President Barack Obama insists 68,000 or more U.S. troops must stay in Afghanistan to fight al-Qaida and prevent extremists from re-acquiring “terrorist training camps.”

This claim, like Saddam Hussein’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction, is a handy slogan to market war to the public. Today, half of Afghanistan is under Taliban control. Anti-American militants could more easily use Somalia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, North and West Africa, or Sudan. They don’t need remote Afghanistan. The 9/11 attacks were planned in apartments, not camps.

The United States should not be waging war on Taliban. However backwards and oafish its Pashtun tribesmen, they have no desire or interest in attacking America. Even less, Canada.

Taliban are the sons of the U.S.-backed mujahidin who defeated the Soviets in the 1980s. As I have been saying since 9/11, Taliban never was America’s enemy. Instead of invading Afghanistan in 2001, the U.S. should have paid Taliban to uproot al-Qaida.

The Pashtun tribes want to end foreign occupation and drive out the Afghan Communists, who now dominate the U.S.-installed Kabul regime. But the U.S. has blundered into a full-scale war not just with Taliban, but with most of Afghanistan’s fierce Pashtun tribes, who comprise over half the population.

Obama is wrestling with widening the war. After eight years of military operations costing $236 billion US, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan just warned of the threat of “failure,” a.k.a. defeat. Canada has so far wasted $16 billion Cdn. on the war. Western occupation forces will be doomed if the Afghan resistance ever gets modern anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles.

The U.S. is sinking ever deeper into the South Asian morass. Washington is trying to arm-twist Pakistan into being more obedient and widening the war against its own independent-minded Pashtun tribes — wrongly called “Taliban.”

Washington’s incredibly ham-handed efforts to use $7.5 billion US to bribe Pakistan’s feeble, corrupt government and army, take control of military promotions, and get a grip on Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, have Pakistan’s soldiers on the verge of revolt.

Obama has been under intense pressure from flag-waving Republicans, much of the media, and the hawkish national security establishment to expand the war. Israel’s supporters, including many Congressional Democrats, want to see the U.S. seize Pakistan’s nuclear arms and expand the Afghan war into Iran.

Obama should admit Taliban is not and never was a threat to the West; that the wildly exaggerated al-Qaida has been mostly eradicated; and that the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan is causing more damage to U.S. interests in the Muslim world — now 25% of all humanity — than Bin Laden and his few rag-tag allies. The bombing in Madrid and London, and conspiracy in Toronto, were all horribly wrongheaded protests by young Muslims against the Afghan war. We are not going to change the way Afghans treat their women by waging war on them, or bring democracy through rigged elections. I wish Obama would just declare victory in Afghanistan, withdraw western forces, and hand over security to a multi-national stabilization force from Muslim nations. Good presidents, like good generals, know when to retreat.

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