Our Magical Thinking in Afghanistan – II



Posted by Bettenoir


At the risk of sounding unpatriotic, all of this suggests to me that, perhaps, we have been dead wrong about everything Afghan and should reconsider our approach; and I’m not talking about switching from traditional combat to Gen. McChrystal’s odd concoction of public and clandestine “black ops” warfare tricked out as “counterinsurgency.”

These Middle East adventures have been propaganda campaigns and it’s pretty much time to send a message to Congress and the Pentagon that the American people are not as stupid, naïve and gullible as they are banking on.


Our military is currently engaged in two separate endeavors in the Middle East that they are ill-equipped to take on as part of their mission – one is PR and the other is nation-building. Bungling these aspects of the conflict do us no good at all; in fact, it’s likely that they do permanent damage to America’s diplomatic stature in the world. Our military is nothing if not persistent, however, so the nonsense goes on until someone has the presence of mind to order them to stop.

Consider some of the more recent SNAFUs and ask yourself if these nonsensical events wouldn’t get you quickly fired if you tried to pull them in your “real-world” job:


By now many of us (who care to know) discovered that the much-touted Marjah Offensive was a world class Snow Job, not to mention an embarrassing non-event that made Coalition forces look ridiculous. Much is made of the illiteracy of the Afghan population but those illiterates saw through the Marjah Offensive and had a good laugh at the Coalition’s expense. From the distortion of the unincorporated villages of the Marjah district into a bustling city of 80,000 and a hub of Taliban support to the appointment of the ex-con, expatriate governor who hasn’t set foot in Afghanistan for 15 years and who’s afraid to leave home unless he’s in an Osprey, Marjah was an unmitigated pack of lame lies aimed at whipping up some enthusiasm for the War in Afghanistan in a world grown weary of it.

Salon’s Glenn Greenwald did a great job of summing up the Marjah propaganda strategy and telling us what to expect ahead of the Kandahar Offensive:

“The Independent declared on February 9, 2010, that General McChrystal wants the Marjah offensive to “be one of the most significant in the country since the fall of the Taliban in 2001″ and, of Obama’s war strategy, said that “Marjah looks like being its first major — and possibly decisive — test.” The BBC quoted a NATO official who proclaimed that Marjah “was ‘probably the definitive operation’ of the counter-insurgency strategy” and “this operation could potentially define the tipping point, the crucial momentum aspect in the counter-insurgency.” Time helpfully informed us that “U.S. officials believe it will mark a turning point in the war.”

“Now that that ‘make-or-break decisive test’ has failed (or, at best, has produced very muddled outcomes), did the Government and media follow through and declare the war effort broken and the strategy a failure? No; they just pretend it never happened and declare the next, latest, glorious Battle the real ‘make-or-break decisive test’ — until that one fails and the next one is portrayed that way, in an endless tidal wave of war propaganda intended to justify our staying for as long as we want, no matter how pointless and counter-productive it is.”

Sure enough, The New York Times rolled out the “trailer” for the Kandahar Offensive this week, breathlessly pronouncing it:

“The looming battle for the spiritual home of the Taliban . . . shaping up as the pivotal test of President Obama’s Afghanistan strategy, including how much the United States can count on the country’s leaders and military for support, and whether a possible increase in civilian casualties from heavy fighting will compromise a strategy that depends on winning over the Afghan people.”

Notice that the Times is already anticipating an “increase in civilian casualties from heavy fighting” that could complicate “winning over the Afghan people.” Of course, those who care to dig out details on where we are in our battle “to win over the Afghan people” will know that the Kandahari’s have already spoken and the only possible way for us to “win over” the 90% of Kandahari’s who despise us is to stay away from their city.

Another fact that could easily slip past us is the mention of Gen. McChrystal’s strategy of keeping American troops outside of Kandahar and send the Afghan Army in to do the fighting as a test of their ability to be effective counterinsurgents. That should yield interesting results . . .


OK, so we declare a “decisive, pivotal, turning point of a win” in Kandahar – and then what? According to Jason Ditz at AntiWar.com the Pentagon just released an ominous report to Congress explaining how it might be disastrous to turn over a “liberated” Afghanistan to the hand-picked, but nonetheless, evil and corrupt (if not drug-addled downright crazy) Hamid Karzai. Here’s that:

“The Pentagon has issued a new report to Congress about the ongoing war in Afghanistan, warning that the Taliban are increasing the size of their insurgency even as support for President Hamid Karzai remains sparse in the most important regions.”

“In fact of the 121 districts cited as ‘key’ to winning the war in the report, only 29 of those districts had populations seen as even sympathizing with the Karzai government.”

“The report pointed to the enormous levels of corruption in the Karzai government as a major problem fueling this lack of credibility, and warned further that the political will to reform was ‘doubtful.’”

Funny how the same problems are cropping up in Iraq, too? War is over, democratic government has been installed and yet . . . insurgent attacks are on the rise, and the government can’t get out of it’s own way. Could it be that neither Iraq nor Afghanistan actually want the US (or at least their treasury) to leave before they’ve sucked a lot more US dollars out of them. And could it be that the Pentagon is only too happy to report that the State Department picked a bad “puppet” to install as head of state in Afghanistan and now the military will have to hang around to ensure peace for the couple of years it’ll take to effect regime change?

Along those lines, The Washington Post published an interesting report, this morning, on recent US manipulations of the political scene in Kandahar. Having failed to budge Wali Karzai out of his position of control in Kandahar, the US has decided to try an end-run around him by supporting the prodigiously unimportant Governor of Kandahar, Tooryalai Wesa, another expatriate “outsider” like the newly installed Governor of Marjah. The Post describes Wesa as “a mild-mannered academic who spent more than a decade in Canada and is considered by many Afghans to be ineffectual.”

Next: In Kandahar, U.S. Tries A Stooge of  The Stooge – III


Source: Blogs.alternet.org
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ‘Wonders of Pakistan’. The contents of this article too are the sole responsibility of the author(s). WoP will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this post.



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