Afghanistan: Ten Years of Aimless War

Each US soldier in Afghanistan costs $1 million per annum. CIA employs 80,000 mercenaries there [cost unknown]. The US spends a staggering $20.2 billion alone annually air conditioning troop quarters in Afghanistan and Iraq. The most damning assessment comes from the US-installed Afghan leader, Hamid Karzai: America’s war has been “ineffective, apart from causing civilian casualties.” Washington’s goal was a favorable political settlement producing a pacified Afghan state run by a regime totally responsive to US political, economic and strategic interests; a native sepoy army led by white officers; and US bases that threaten Iran, watch China, and control the energy-rich Caspian Basin. All the claims made about fighting “terrorism and al-Qaida,” liberating Afghan women and bringing democracy are pro-war window dressing. CIA chief Leon Panetta admitted there were no more than 25-50 al-Qaida members in Afghanistan. Why are then 150,000 US and NATO troops there?
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THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN: ‘ ENDURING FREEDOM’ TURNS ‘ENDURING MISERY’

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by Eric Margolis

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Operation Enduring Freedom – the dreadfully misnamed ten-year US occupation of Afghanistan – has turned into Operation Enduring Misery.

The renowned military strategist, Maj. Gen. J.F.C Fuller, defined war’s true objective as achieving desired political results, not killing enemies.

But this is just what the US has been doing in Afghanistan. After ten years of war costing at least $450 billion, 1,600 dead and 15,000 seriously wounded soldiers, the US has achieved none of its strategic or political goals.

Each US soldier in Afghanistan costs $1 million per annum. CIA employs 80,000 mercenaries there, cost unknown. The US spends a staggering $20.2 billion alone annually air conditioning troop quarters in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The most damning assessment comes from the US-installed Afghan leader, Hamid Karzai: America’s war has been “ineffective, apart from causing civilian casualties.”

Washington’s goal was a favorable political settlement producing a pacified Afghan state run by a regime totally responsive to US political, economic and strategic interests; a native sepoy army led by white officers; and US bases that threaten Iran, watch China, and control the energy-rich Caspian Basin.

All the claims made about fighting “terrorism and al-Qaida,” liberating Afghan women and bringing democracy are pro-war window dressing. CIA chief Leon Panetta admitted there were no more than 25-50 al-Qaida members in Afghanistan. Why are  150,000 US and NATO troops there?

Washington’s real objective was clearly defined in 2007 by US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher: to “stabilize Afghanistan so it can become a conduit and hub between South and Central Asia – so energy can flow south.”

The Turkmenistan-Afghan-Pakistan TAPI gas pipeline that the US has sought since 1998 is finally nearing completion. But whether it can operate in the face of sabotage remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, Washington has been unable to create a stable government in Kabul. The primary reason: ethnic politics. Over half of the population is non Pashtun (or Pathan), from whose ranks come Taliban. Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara minorities who fiercely oppose the Pashtun. All three collaborated with the Soviet occupation from 1979-1989; today they collaborate with the US and NATO occupation.

Most of the Afghan army and police, on which the US spends $6 billion annually, are Tajiks and Uzbek, many members of the old Afghan Communist Party. To Pashtuns, they are bitter enemies. In Afghanistan, the US has built its political house on ethnic quicksands.

Worse, US-run Afghanistan now produces 93% of the world’s most dangerous narcotic, heroin. Under Taliban, drug production virtually ended, according to the UN. Today, the Afghan drug business is booming. The US tries to blame Taliban; but the real culprits are high government officials in Kabul and US-backed warlords.

A senior UN drug official recently asserted that Afghan heroin killed 10,000 people in NATO countries last year. And this does not include Russia, a primary destination for Afghan heroin.

So the United States is now the proud owner of the world’s leading narco-state and deeply involved with the Afghan Tajik drug mafia.

The US is bleeding billions in Afghanistan. Forty-four cents of every dollar spent by Washington is borrowed from China and Japan. While the US has wasted $1.283 trillion on the so-called “war on terror,” China has been busy buying up resources and making new friends and markets. The ghost of Osama bin Laden must be smiling.

The US can’t afford this endless war against the fierce Pashtun people, renowned for making Afghanistan “the Graveyard of Empires.” But the imperial establishment in Washington wants to hold on to strategic Afghanistan, particularly the ex-Soviet air bases at Bagram and Kandahar. The US is building its biggest embassy in the world in Kabul, an $800 million fortress with 1,000 personnel, protected by a small army of mercenary gunmen. So much for withdrawal plans.

The stumbling, confused US war in Afghanistan has now lasted longer than the two world wars. The former US commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McCrystal, just said Washington’s view of that nation is “frighteningly simplistic.” That’s an understatement.

Facing the possibility of stalemate or even defeat in Afghanistan, Washington is trying to push India deeper into the conflict. This desperate ploy, and nurturing ethnic conflict, will ensure another decade of misery for Afghanistan.

 copyright Eric S. Margolis 2011

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Cost of war in terms of money is nothing for America till there exists a worldwide market for American goods and services. Loss in terms of lives is now being dealt with in the ongoing long war, by replacing man by machine to avoid such losses. Troops are being reduced. ANF is being trained. Supporting role of Pakistan is being replaced. India, China, Russia and Iran are satisfied of their increasing role in Afghanistan and full support is being rendered to them by existing Afghan regime. All these factors are going to play a positive role in winning the ongoing war against terrorism.

    • Dr. A.K. Tewari, This is how you would wish the on going war on ‘terror’ to proceed, but wishes are horses that have no reins. They can go anywhere, anytime and without consequences. The on ground reality is that US and her partners are loosing their men in spite of your so called drone killing strategy, adopted by the ace US strategists.
      As the war is proceeding now, and as the things now stand, the US and her allies have to leave Afghanistan, but the problem that the whole world particularly the south Asian region may face is the post war Afghanistan, which to my mind could turn more deadly than the present situation. You may wish that US and India together chalk out the course of events but dear Doc its not going to happen until and unless all stakeholders including the Afghan Taliban [not the TTP brand fake Taliban] and Pakistan are active participants in any post war Afghanistan formula.

      You and a lot other fellows in India and Pakistan always wish that Pakistan and India remain adversaries forever, a wish that to my mind is nothing but a death wish. The subcontinent on the other hand needs a mutually beneficial friendly approach than belligerent approaches of yesteryears.

  2. Mr. Margolis says the war is aimless, whereas the aim is very clear i.e. to eliminate terrorists, and their supporters.

  3. Dr. Nayyar, Do you think this war has been triggered without aiming any goal? Can any one halt it in the mid way? At present there exists a vertical rift among the entire Ummah. The rift will be deepening further. Only one of its part will get moral support from rest of the world while the other will be eliminated through several factors including Drones. In the long run changes will be visible to you. Let the time roll. We are now living in information age and not in 14th century.

    • Of course this war has not been ‘triggered’ but made to trigger with certain goal and that goal is worldwide control of US on mineral resources of the world. Whether this war will halt in the middle, well Dr. Tewari, the war is going on since last ten years and there is no end in sight. The people in the US as well as in NATO countries now have a clear perception of these trillion dollar wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, which are being fought for a selected few of the military industry tycoons at the expense of the common man’s jobs, social securities and health benefits. No wonder that the Obama administration has announced to withdraw its forces by 2014. But to my mind it would be just an eye wash. The forces that helped emerge Obama as the first black president of a predominantly white nation did not do so to decide for peace in the world. The war will most probably go on but may be in another form. Whether it will proceed as Americans or Indians may wish it to is a big question.
      Many a times man proposes and God disposes. [If you do believe in God, then its for you. If you don’t, I leave it to you whatever opinion you may be having. After all wishes are horses who do not know where to go, when to go and in what time to go?]


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