Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Senatorial Doubts About Afghanistan

The war in Afghanistan has been going on for nearly nine years and each year whoever is the president or whoever heads the military assures the American public that things will eventually straighten out. Two leading senators who have made their careers focused on issues of foreign policy admitted they have doubts about the final outcome. They examined figures and conclude there simply is not sufficient evidence the Afghan army is becoming an effective fighting force or that President Karzai has the slightest interest in becoming an effective, honest leader of his nation. Senator John Kerry stated the problem cogently: “The problem is that the key element of this strategy is the one over which we have the least control, and that is the willingness and ability of Afghans to assume ownership of the efforts.” He also emphasized “we need a better understanding of exactly what the definition of success is in Afghanistan.”

Republican Senator Lugar was equally as pessimistic. He doubts if the United States can “remake the economic, political and security culture of Afghanistan.” Lugar and Kerry are not fear mongers, they do not play to the grandstand as does their colleague, Senator McCain. They want answers and apparently none are forthcoming.

Death Is Not Proud In Afghanistan

Death is a daily visitor to American troops in Afghanistan and his work now compels being available twenty four hours a day. Two days ago, three Americans died, yesterday, six more died as Taliban forces assaulted a key headquarters of the National Civil Order Police. X number of the Taliban are dead, another suicide bomber is on his way to Heaven for a meeting with the virgin women and eternity of free sex and the good life. As of July 13, 2010, the number of dead Americans in Afghanistan is now 33. At this rate it may well top a hundred by the end of the month. One might consider the issue of losing a certain number of soldiers in order to attain “victory,” but it is doubtful if anyone in the US military has the slightest idea what “victory” entails. The war goes on, corruption continues, the people of Afghanistan have scant respect for their government and President Obama continues insisting troops will be leaving by 2011.

Republican hawks like Senator John McCain want the war to go on forever–and a day. In 1954, the French were losing their battle to retain the colony of Indo China and asked President Dwight Eisenhower to approve bombing raids against Communist insurgents. He made clear the US was not going to get involved in a land war in Asia to protect corruption or government incompetence. Unfortunately, President Obama does not agree with General Eisenhower’s ideas on war and peace.

An Unimportant Story From Afghanistan

It was a minor item in the news, a story at the bottom of the page, there was no dramatic headline, simply the announcement of a few more casualties in a place far away known as Afghanistan. The newly appointed Interior Minister in Afghanistan, General Rismillah Khan said he was beginning a new program designed to improve training of Afghan police and security personnel. Republican critics argue this is “Obama’s War” and blame him for ills that are rampant in this country located someplace in Asia. Where were Republican critics for EIGHT YEARS, when their beloved leaders, Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld were proclaiming things were going great in Afghanistan and the US had introduced a program to train an Afghan army of over a 100,000 men? Had former President Bush done HIS JOB of instituting training EIGHT YEARS AGO, there would not be a Taliban insurgency in 2010. Bush shifted emphasis from the task of wiping out the Taliban in 2001 to the task of lousing up things in Iraq in 2003.

Sorry, Republicans, the fault does not lie with Barack Obama, it lies on the heads of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld–any yourselves!!

Corruption Is Norm In Afghanistan

Integrity Watch Afghanistan recently conducted a survey regarding the existence of corruption within the nation of Afghanistan and results are fairly along the lines of what has been said about this nation for over several years –corruption is the norm, not the exception. The average Afghan family earns about $502 a year and pays out about $156 a year of this income to government officials in order to get a job or secure a service that normally is free in most countries of the world. Overall, an estimated $1 billion yearly goes into the pockets of judges or policemen in order to persuade them to perform their legal responsibilities. According to IWA, “Corruption is weakening the legitimacy of the state,” Of course, according to President Karzai such figures and statements are simply attempts to weaken his power. After all, if you are the head of a nation, doesn’t that mean you can allow corruption to go on and benefit family members?

Afghanistan Corruption Fault Of US

During the past several years there have been numerous reports concerning corruption in the government of Afghanistan, but according to President Karzai, the problem of such behavior does not stem from Afghan officials, but from US and NATO business corporations who offer contracts to rebuild the country. It does something like this:

1. Afghan officials are honest men.
2. The US government offers aid to Afghanistan which will go through corporations.
3. These corporations contract with Afghan officials.
4. The honest Afghan officials have to deal with hundreds of millions of dollars. Being honest, they do not seek to make any profit from such contacts.
5. Foreign business interests somehow get the money, use the money and take the money out of the country.

In all honesty, I really do not understand how Afghan officials have nothing to do with the billions entering their nation. In any respect, we can thank God there is an honest man like President Karzai in charge. Now, if he could only convince the people of his country that he is honest, this problem would disappear.

New Zealand Says, Thanks, But No

President Obama insists his administration will not give up the battle to gain democracy in Afghanistan even though such a victory might result in the end of his party’s political party in Congress. Even as the president speaks of surges and victory, if he turned his back there might be realization that European nations are beginning to process of leaving dear old Afghanistan. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key politely declined a request from Australia for more troops from his nation to fight in Afghanistan. There are presently a few hundred New Zealand troops in that country and they work in Usuzgan province alongside Dutch troops. But, the Dutch are packing up this summer and bidding a fond farewell to the mountains and deaths of Afghanistan. Key expressed concern that his troops felt uneasy accompanying Afghans they train once the recruits leave the compound and actually get outside where the Taliban lurk.

There is growing evidence most European nations are ready to cut out of Afghanistan and leave the mess in the hands of the United States. The message is clear–the Afghan government is corrupt and incompetent so training soldiers who lack faith in their own government is an exercise in futility. It is time for everyone to make clear to President Karzai– appoint a Cabinet of honest technocrats or we leave!!

Iraq And Afghanistan -Similar Or Different?

Once again, General David Petraeus has been asked to initiate a military campaign in a nation wracked with insurgents and conflict. The famous “surge” he implemented in Iraq did result in a reduction of deaths, but two years after the supposed “success,” Iraq continues to witness bombings and death by al-Qaeda. Are there parallels between Iraq and Afghanistan?

1. In both nations, insurgents are deeply embedded within local populations.
2. Security forces are ill equipped, ill-trained and poorly led.
3. Both countries are led by corrupt, inefficient governments.
4. The local population has scant trust in either its own government forces or those of the US.

Back home, the American public in 2010 is even less confident there is any exit strategy in Afghanistan that makes sense.

What about differences?

1. The war in Iraq was mainly in urban areas. The war in Afghanistan is fought in rural and mountainous areas.
2. Iraq had a large educated class which, under Saddam, became secular. Most of its population is literate. Afghanistan is mainly illiterate, and the educated class is small.
3. Iraq has a well educated female population. This is just beginning in Afghanistan.

Can Petreaus pull it off? Who knows, the Shadow only knows.

Goodbye Afghanistan, Hello Broadway

On one hand, American military leaders like General Petraeus or Senators like John McCain, argue the US must remain in Afghanistan until Hell freezes over or the Taliban are gone–whichever comes first. On the other hand, President Obama insists troops will begin leaving dear old Afghanistan sometime next year. According to Rahm Emanuel departure begins somewhere around July, 2011. “That’s not changing. Everybody agreed on that date.” Of course, the “everybody” appears to mean Petraeus, Defense Secretary Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen. Gates is caught between the opposing views and argues, “We clearly understand that in July of 2011, we begin to draw down our forces. The pace with which we draw down and hnow many we draw down is going to be conditions-based.”

Casualties continue mounting. Each day brings bad news. Exactly, how troops will be withdrawn when men are getting killed and the incompetent Afghanistan government is disliked, remains the mystery of the year.

More Troops, More Deaths, More Taliban

Each passing day produces evidence a policy of sending more NATO and American troops into southern areas of Afghanistan in order to drive out Taliban forces invariably results in more attacks, more wounded and more soldiers dying. Richard Barrett, for UK counter-terrorism director told the media: “Foreign troops push into areas where they have never been before and if the Taliban are there, they will start fighting. Then, it is not calm. It’s not calm because foreign troops have pushed in.” So far this year, IED bombings are up 90% compared to figures for this same period in 2009. Of course, the rationale defended by advocates of more troops is the necessity to create calm areas, train Afghan forces, and once they move in, out will go soldiers from the West. An interesting theory which lacks a single shred of evidence it will work.

Reality is we are stuck, we are in a rut, and we don’t have a clue as to ways of extricating our forces from a nation lacking honest and effective leaders. Reality, is at the current pace, expect American troops to be fighting in the hills of Afghanistan in 2015.

How Long For Afghanistan?

In the fall of 2001, American troops swept through Afghanistan, and wiped out its Taliban government to shouts by the Republican administration that all the bad guys in that nation were gone and democracy would now flourish. In 2003, President Bush proclaimed, Mission Accomplished in Iraq, but, for some reason that message never got delivered to al-Qaeda. Several months ago, President Obama, filled with pride, announced a new surge which would take care of the Taliban and establish an honest government in Kabul. Unfortunately, the promise was more bull than Kabul. Each day reveals more deaths, more wounded, and more Taliban. The Taliban are still around Kandahar, they move in and out of Kabul, and they kill with impunity. Admiral Mike Mullen, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says “we all have angst” about the course of the war which is not adhering to “the timetable.”

Former Pentagon analyst, Anthony Cordesman recently wrote, “Two critical questions dominate any realistic discussions of the conflict. the first is whether the war is worth fighting. The second is whether it can be won. The answers to both are uncertain.” But, there is a timetable calling for withdrawal of US troops to begin next year as “trained Afghan soldiers” take over. The only “trained Afghan soldiers” belong to corrupt tribal chieftains who want money and power more than creating a democratic society. About 1,800 Polish troops will be soon leaving and 2,000 Canadians are ready to depart next year. Are these signs that something in blowing in an ill wind of despair?