Hillary widens Pak-US distrust

By General Retd Mirza Aslam Beg

Diplomats are very careful in their words while delivering political speeches and also dealing with the leadership of other countries. They are polite, articulate and courteous, and convey even very tough messages with a touch of grace. But US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on her recent visit to Pakistan, appeared much emotionally disturbed, displaying a strange logic hit out to “decrease the historic distrust.” She said:

  • “Should an attack on the US be traced to Pakistan, it would have a very devastating impact.” This means, another demonstration of “shock and awe” over Pakistan as on Afghanistan in 2001, but with a mild difference. That India would also join the US, as it is also having jitters after the Mumbai attack.
  • “I believe, Mullah Omar and Osama are in Pakistan and you know they are here. Don’t double cross. Help us to get them.” For over nine years, the Americans and their allies have been trying to get them and having failed, now expect the Pakistan army to ‘produce the rabbits from the hat’, failing which Pakistan has to remain prepared to face the wrath of the sole superpower of the world.
  • Three: “Pak-China nuclear deal is a matter of great concern. We can trace the export of nuclear information and material from Pakistan, through all kinds of channels, to many different countries. We are fulfilling our commitment, but it is not a one-way street.” Since Pakistan and China have explained umpteen times that the nuclear deal is fully covered by the IAEA guarantees, it should not be a matter of concern for any one. But as this is a case of the ‘lion and the lamb’, Pakistan has to be prepared to face the onslaught of the “global-anti-nuclear-proliferation-regime comprising US, Israel and India”, ready to take out its nuclear assets and capabilities.
  • Four: “Pakistan is double crossing us in dealing with the terrorists. They are shielding the Haqqani group in particular, who are causing all the trouble for us in Afghanistan. It is time for Pakistan now to make sure that we are on the same page on Afghanistan” and “there is a gulf between how the Pakistanis define the good and bad Taliban and what Washington calls reconcilable and irreconcilable Taliban.”

As if, this was not enough, Pakistan and Afghanistan delegates were huddled together at Islamabad to sign the Afghan Transit Trade Agreement, while Hillary stood behind like a headmistress with a rod in hand, to ensure compliance. The entire process was completed in such a hurry, that the Pakistan’s representatives did not get the time to discuss the matter with Parliament, or at least with the members of the Cabinet. And our PM, who should not have been there, in any case, stood at the signing of the agreement with a cynical smile on his face.

Ms Clinton scored another point, by forcing the Pakistani government to restore the privilege of our Ambassador in Washington, to issue one year multiple visit visas’ to the Americans visiting Pakistan. This privilege was, however, misused in the past by the Americans working for Blackwater and other such shady organisations. It means that the old ‘cloak and dagger’ game is on, once again. Read more of this post

Pax Americana, a dream shattered by Afghans


by Dr S M Rahman

The reactionary power propensity represented by Bushes, Dick Cheneys, Rumsfelds, whom Robert Jensen in his article ‘N-Weapon abolition requires death of US empire (Dissident Voice, reproduced in the Nation, June 20, 2010) describes as Reckless Hawks, compared to Obama, Bidens and Clintons who are relatively Reasonable Hawks. Hawks nevertheless!! The Reckless lot is ‘psychotic, whereas the Reasonable ones are cynical. What is that impels US policy makers – Republicans and Democrats alike to follow Wilsonian security paradigm as against Jeffersonian. Dismayed by the over ambitious, awfully disastrous pre-emptive US doctrine propounded by George Bush and Co,, the new incumbent Obama has been advised by the ‘pundits’ and statesmen to steer foreign policy a bit different from that of his predecessor. Walter Russell Mead based on the Carter analogy argued in the recent issue of Foreign Policy; “Obama”, he says, “needs to reconcile a transcendent Wilsonian vision of US foreign policy, with a competing Jeffersonian world view that focuses on the pitfalls of imperial overstretch” (All the Presidents Dreams by Richard Bart, The National interest, No. 106, Mar-Apr 2010).

Zbigniew Brezezinski – who was serving as Security Advisor to President Carter – a Hawkish policy propeller, just as Henry Kissinger was to Richard Nixon. How to take full control of Eurasia, after the end of Cold War, was Brezezinski’s strategic ambition in order to perpetuate USA’s absolute control over the world through a Power Chess Board paradigm. He is a bit critical of Obama – perhaps being ‘wishy washy’ and raising lot of expectations rather than “strategic breakthroughs”. He needs to be, “tenacious” and ‘energetic’ according to him, to be ale to ‘realize’ the goals he has already elaborated. Left to himself, perhaps, he would have followed what Nixon did in the context of Vietnam under the advice of Henry Kissinger. It was although a painful decision, but he did extract USA from the “Vietnam morass”, as the useless war was exceedingly becoming unpopular, besides creating an economic nightmare, entailing colossal budget deficit. Obama’s oscillation between ‘power’ and prudence is due to the mounting pressures of the Hawkish groups – the remnants of Bush era and the Military Industrial Complex, which promotes military interventions, as its market strategy. The ‘merchants of death’, have led to the transformation for the world, as if it were a replica of Greek tragedy.

At the end of World War II, USA emerged as an undisputed global power, though through act of ‘nuclear barbarism’ on Japan, not due to military requirements but to convey a message indirectly to “Soviet Union” to accept a step lower than that of USA, in the ‘power-pecking order’ of the world. Is it not a pathological and a dehumanized sensibility that depicts the US strategic mind set? A military historian has calculated that there were 39 incidents of “nuclear black mail”, of which 30 were made by the US officials. This, in essence depicts the so called civilizational face of USA, which Bush was so boastful about in justifying his ‘pre-emptive military doctrine’, which essentially was predatory in nature, to defend the most exploitative economic system of Capitalism and the West’s over accentuating greed to consume disproportional share of the global wealth. What else is globalization?

“Strategic contentment” is not what US and its allies tend to pursue. Despite the affluence and military power, USA had attained, the State Department’s policy planning staff in 1947 (as quoted by Robert Jenson) very explicitly conveyed: “To seek less than preponderant power would be to opt for defeat. Preponderant power must be the object of US policy.” The ‘preponderant power’ essentially is that it rules the world and that USA calls the strategic shots and determine the “terms of the global economy, to others, who can not reconcile to the domination, must be prepared to face annihilation. No other system would be acceptable and therefore, throughout the Cold War the myth of Communism was created to make the gullible public phobic about the dreadful ideology. It was not the media onslaught that led to the fall of Soviet Union. The strategic blunder did it, which it committed by invading Afghanistan, not realizing that Afghan territory is predisposed to sucking great empires – sort of eastern version of ‘Bermuda triangle’ (Analogy made by General Asad Durrani) in his write-up Making Sense in AfPak (Newsletter, issue 8, Thinker’s Forum (TFP). Read more of this post

Pak Interests Differ from US on Substantive Issues

By Dr. Shireen M Mazari

The Americans cannot understand mainstream Pakistan because they never get beyond the selected few amongst even the elite, the rulers and the civil and military bureaucracies. Ms Clinton never got the real picture on her earlier visit and surely she will not understand the depth of the anti-American sentiment that prevails in Pakistan today, despite (or perhaps because of) the massive inflows of intrusive aid into this country.

We are told she has come with a $500 million aid package and apparently the aid will go into power, agriculture, health and dams also – but as we all know for the Americans there is no such thing as a “free lunch” – and already our country is bleeding because of the alliance with the US so we are going to be bled some more with this aid package which is believed to be part of the old $ 7.5 billion Congressional aid package.

So why is one seeing this as a “bribe”? Simply because it is intended to soften the blow that the US is trying to deal Pakistan in terms of altering what remains of our indigenous foreign policy. So much has also been admitted by the self-styled expert on Pakistan, like many others on Holbrooke’s team, Vali Nasr. In a talk with CNN while he admitted that there was a wide trust gap between Pakistan and the US, besides stating that changing the relationship would take time. But his assessment was that “We are not going to be able to change their foreign policy on a dime.” If he had been a proper expert on Pakistan and actually knew the country well, he would have realised that it is not money that will alter Pakistan’s thinking (leaving aside the fifth columnists) on the US, but actually policy changes in US strategic policy especially in this region.

What are the primary changes the US will need to make to allow Pakistanis to rethink their perceptions of the US?

One, a stop in drone attacks, which can in definitional terms be regarded as state terrorism against the Pakistani people. Let Pakistan talk to its militants – many of whom are Pakistani citizens – rather than demanding our military simply kill the people of FATA indiscriminately.

Two, a new approach to the Pakistan-India relationship and a more even-handed policy towards both states. As long as the Indo-US nuclear agreement remains and the US pressurises Pakistan on its civil nuclear agreements with China, the US will be suspect. Also, the supply of state-of-the-art conventional weapon systems to India with no restrictions on their use, and the highly conditional sale of F-16s to Pakistan also add to the suspicions about the US agenda for Pakistan. And let us not forget the missile defence system for India, which will compel Pakistan to increase the number of its warheads and missiles. On Kashmir also, the recent statement by the US State Department, echoing the Indian position and ignoring the disputed status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir within the UNSC, hardly creates confidence in Pakistan. Many are asking why this is so and what the secret clauses are to this Agreement since the US is desperately seeking access for India through the land route across Pakistan into Afghanistan?

Three, the US has to rid itself of its approach to the Muslim World, especially towards Muslim states that refuse to toe the US line. Its killings of Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan; its harassment of Muslims in the US itself all add to the anti-US sentiment. The US analysts are ignorant about the fact that Pakistan has since 1947 been in the frontline of assisting Muslim causes – be it our pilots flying Syrian planes against Israel or the Tunisian and Algerian leadership using Pakistani passports and our embassy in Paris as they struggled for independence from France – to cite a few examples only. Read more of this post

Objectives of Pakistan’s adversaries remain unaccomplished

By Asif Haroon Raja


The US is the strongest military and economic power of the world but its behavior is amateurish and childish and doesn’t correspond to its stature, strength and capability. After 2nd World War, it never clashed directly with an adversary matching its capabilities but always attacked very weak foes. Like a typical bully, it prefers tiny David over giant Goliath and clobbers the former mercilessly but as luck would have it, USA didn’t even succeed against David. After North Korean fiasco in 1953-54, its physical strength was put to test in Vietnam where it got embroiled with small-height, impoverished and ill-equipped Vietcong under inspiring leadership of Ho-chi-Minh in North Vietnam who were no match to the well fed, tall and strongly built GIs backed up with massive sophisticated military and technological resources. They wanted to succeed where French had failed against Vietminh led by Gen Giap (1946-54). During its ten-year stay (1964-1974), the US military applied maximum force to annihilate the opponents. It dropped 7.8 million tons of bombs including napalms and mustard gas, sprayed 75 million litres of defoliants including Dioxin over fields, forests and villages causing 7 million casualties including 3 million dead. Despite wholesale massacre and destruction the Americans failed to break the will and resilience of Vietnamese to fight back. The resistance forces were covertly backed by USSR and China since the two considered it their moral duty to provide material assistance to the beleaguered neighbor believing in same ideology.

When the casualties of US soldiers began to mount and reached the figure of 58000 fatalities and home pressure intensified, adamant US leadership instead of winding up the war extended it to Cambodia under the warped logic that unless safe sanctuaries of Vietcong in neighboring Cambodia were neutralized, victory in Vietnam War was not possible. Additional troops were sought to expand the scope of war. When this experiment failed after massacring tens of thousands of Cambodians, USA had to finally eat a humble pie and order retreat in sheer disgust and disgrace.

Stewing in the juice of humiliation, the US got an opportunity to avenge its disgrace when Soviets forces barged into Afghanistan and Mujahideen backed up by Pakistan confronted them at their own. Instead of jumping into the fray and battling with Soviet forces in an even match, USA decided to resort to indirect strategy. It provoked and backed Mujahideen to directly take on Soviet troops and Afghan Army to liberate Afghanistan. It also lured Pakistan through $3.5 billion aid package to act as a frontline state and undertake a proxy war. Its forces stayed out of the Afghan war since USA had learnt a bitter lesson of direct confrontation in North Korea and North Vietnam.

Thanks to outstanding fight put up by rag tag Mujahideen and immense sacrifices rendered by them and Pakistan, Afghan war was decisively won and Soviet forces pushed out. When it came to collecting awards, the US stood alone on the victory stand and gathered all of them leaving the actual winners high and dry. The US having avenged its dishonor in Vietnam with the help of others declared itself a winner without losing a single soldier.

This grand success which drastically truncated USSR and reduced it into Commonwealth of Independent States, ended bi-polarism and made USA the sole super power. This unprecedented elevation went into the heads of arrogant US leaders and they started viewing America as the mightiest and invincible. They forgot that their military had played no role in the defeat and demise of Soviet Union. Drunk with power and megalomania, they wanted to punish the very forces that had elevated USA to prestigious position of unchallenged super power and had put their lives at stake. Afghanistan under Taliban was among the most impoverished countries of the world, devoid of armed forces and technological base.

Regardless of their handicaps, the Americans forgot that Afghanistan was the traditional graveyard of many mighty empires where it was easy to get in but far more difficult to get out. They wanted to succeed where none had succeeded. Soviet Union jumped into the inferno of Afghanistan because of paranoia of Islamic resurgence. It had the advantage of geographic contiguity and dedicated logistic tail. It had strong political roots in Afghanistan in the form of Khalq and Parcham parties, had a heavy presence of military advisers and had committed 150000 troops at the outset. Yet it failed in its mission and had to withdraw. US leaders were so buoyed up with the prospects of commercial gains from Central Asia that they completely overlooked US military handicaps. To hide their real motives they raised false slogans of freedom and democracy and demonized Taliban, with whom US UNOCOL was in secret contacts. They ignored over 1.5 million human losses of Mujahideen, mostly Afghans and the brilliant work done by ISI under Gen Akhtar Abdur Rahman and later under Gen Hameed Gul. Read more of this post

Not just terrorism!

By Farooq Hameed Khan

When the DG ISI recently briefed the Parliamentary Committee on National Security, about foreign powers trying to destabilise Pakistan by sponsoring terrorist acts, the alarm bells should be ringing louder in the government corridors. Most significant was his remark that security forces were vigilantly monitoring the situation to forestall any ‘major eventuality’ that could threaten national security.

In the wake of the deteriorating internal security situation and the recent well coordinated anti-Pak army and ISI onslaught by the international media and London School of Economics, the ISI chief’s remarks reinforced the commonly held view that happenings all over Pakistan were more than just acts of terrorism.

The recent spate of target killings in Karachi is aimed to create political, ethnic and sectarian strife to weaken the country. Anti-state elements have destabilised Karachi, the country’s economic hub to an extent that both the federal and provincial governments appear helpless to control this mad killing spree.

How would one explain the reported blatant display of the provocative billboard of the Sindh Liberation Army (SLA) in Karachi? The billboard carries the picture of a SLA leader with a Kalas-hnikov, sporting a jacket and a Sindhi cap, urging people to join the movement for the liberation of so-called Sindhudesh. Is RAW up to its old mischief again in Sindh?

Quetta and interior Balochistan continue to witness attacks on Punjabi settlers and security personnel on a dangerous scale by the RAW,. CIA and RAAM funded and armed Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA). Articles by foreign writers circulating on the internet, debate the ‘final solution’ for Pakistan, including the envisaged carving out of an international corridor from Gwadar up north into Balochistan.

It seems the nation has forgotten the infamous Blackwater phenomenon that emerged mysteriously in our major towns and cities in the last two years or so? Operating under the new banners of Xe/Dyn Corp, these hundreds of private foreign security contractors and their secret network must now be well entrenched in Pakistan’s major cities. It cannot be dismissed as a mere coincidence that wherever these foreigners moved, that city soon got engulfed in terrorist acts that appear to instigate sectarian and ethnic violence and civil strife.

Is the Baghdad model, that involves attacks on religious shrines to provoke confrontation between different Muslim sects, being replicated in Lahore? Here the question is, does this ‘Xe network’ have links with our banned extremist organisations and ethnic groups? It is true that those who execute these violent acts appear to be well trained and brainwashed religious fanatic Pakistanis with a mix of Afghan nationals. But are the foreign contractors, with support from their friends across our eastern borders, the real masterminds of these bloody events? Even the Honourable Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court has sought a report from the Punjab government regarding any covert involvement of these shady security personnel in the ongoing terror wave in Lahore.
Read more of this post

The Unwinnable War in Afghanistan

Saving face in unwinnable war

Sinking in debt and no closer to victory, heads may roll as the U.S. and NATO wrap up their pointless Afghan adventure

American soldiers search for caves concealing weapons in eastern Afghanistan. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

By ERIC MARGOLIS, QMI AGENCY

Fire-breathing U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his Special Forces “mafia” were supposed to crush Afghan resistance to western occupation. But McChrystal was fired after rude remarks from his staff about the White House.

A more cerebral and political general, David Petraeus, replaced McChrystal. Petraeus managed to temporarily suppress resistance in Iraq.

Last week, the usually cautious Petraeus vowed from Kabul to “win” the Afghan War, which has cost the U.S. nearly $300 billion to date and 1,000 dead. The problem: No one can define what winning really means. Each time the U.S. reinforces, Afghan resistance grows stronger.

Afghanistan is America’s longest-running conflict.

The escalating war now costs U.S. taxpayers $17 billion monthly. President Barack Obama’s Afghan “surge” of 30,000 more troops will cost another $30 billion.

The Afghan and Iraq wars — at a cost of $1 trillion — are being waged on borrowed money when the U.S. is drowning in $13.1 trillion in debt.

America has become addicted to debt and war.

By 2011, Canadians will have spent an estimated $18.1 billion on Afghanistan, $1,500 per household.

The U.S. Congress, which alone can declare and fund war, shamefully allowed U.S. presidents George W. Bush and Obama to usurp this power. A majority of Americans now oppose this imperial misadventure. Though politicians fear opposing the war lest they be accused of “betraying our soldiers,” dissent is breaking into the open.

Last week, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele let the cat out of the bag, admitting the Afghan war was not winnable. War-loving Republicans erupted in rage, all but accusing Steele of high treason. Many of Steele’s most hawkish Republican critics had, like Bush and Dick Cheney, dodged real military service during the Vietnam War.

Republicans (I used to be one) blasted McChrystal’s sensible policy of trying to lessen Afghan civilian casualties from U.S. bombing and shelling. There is growing anti-western fury in Afghanistan and Pakistan over mounting civilian deaths.

By clamouring for more aggressive attacks that endanger Afghan civilians and strengthen Taliban, Republicans again sadly demonstrate they have become the party and voice of America’s dim and ignorant.

Obama claimed he was expanding the Afghan War to fight al-Qaida. Yet the Pentagon estimates there are no more than a handful of al-Qaida small-fry left in Afghanistan.

Obama owes Americans the truth about Afghanistan.

After nine years of war, the immense military might of the U.S., its dragooned NATO allies, and armies of mercenaries have been unable to defeat resistance to western occupation or create a popular, legitimate government in Kabul. Drug production has reached new heights.

As the United States feted freedom from a foreign oppressor on July 4, its professional soldiers were using every sort of weapon in Afghanistan, from heavy bombers to tanks, armoured vehicles, helicopter gunships, fleets of drones, heavy artillery, cluster bombs and an arsenal of hi-tech gear.

In spite of this might, bands of outnumbered Pashtun tribesmen and farmers, armed only with small arms, determination and limitless courage, have fought the West’s war machine to a standstill and now have it on the strategic defensive. Read more of this post

Afghan War: Petraeus Expands U.S. Military Presence Throughout Eurasia


by Rick Rozoff

On July 4 General David Petraeus assumed command of 142,000 U.S. and NATO troops in a ceremony in the Afghan capital of Kabul. He succeeded the disgraced and soon to be retired General Stanley McChrystal as chief of all foreign troops in Afghanistan, those serving under U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A)/Operation Enduring Freedom and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

He now commands military units from 46 official troop contributing nations and others from several additional countries not officially designated as such but with forces in or that will soon be deployed to Afghanistan, such as Egypt, Jordan and Colombia. Neither the Carthaginian commander Hannibal during the Second Punic War nor Napoleon Bonaparte in the wars that bore his name commanded troops speaking as many diverse tongues.

That Petraeus took charge of soldiers from fifty nations occupying a conquered country on his own country’s Independence Day has gone without commentary, either ironic or indignant. In 1775 American colonists began an eight-year war against foreign troops – those of Britain and some 30,000 German auxiliaries, the latter a quarter of all forces serving under English command in North America. Currently the three nations providing the most troops for the nearly nine-year-old and increasingly deadly war in Afghanistan are the U.S. (almost 100,000), Britain (9,500) and Germany (4,500).

Petraeus’s remarks on the occasion of accepting his new dual command contained the standard U.S. and NATO characterization of their war in Afghanistan as aimed exclusively against armed extremists, in particular those portrayed as fighters from other countries. A representative quote states “al-Qaeda and its network of extremist allies will not be allowed to once again establish sanctuaries in Afghanistan.” Two hundred and thirty-five years ago the government of King George III may well have spoken in a similar vein concerning the likes of Johann de Kalb, Thaddeus Kosciuszko, Casimir Pulaski, Friedrich Von Steuben and the Marquis de Lafayette illegally entering British territories along the Atlantic Seaboard and waging warfare against the Crown’s troops.

Petraeus arrived in Kabul on July 2, direct from Belgium where he had addressed NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the 28 member states’ permanent representatives in the North Atlantic Council and representatives of 46 ISAF contributors at NATO Headquarters in Brussels and Admiral James Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), General Egon Ramms, Commander Joint Force Command Brunssum, and other senior military staff at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe near Mons. (Two days later at NATO headquarters in Kabul he had two flags bestowed on him, “one for the U.S. and the other for NATO.”) [1]

NATO chief Rasmussen was in Lisbon, Portugal the day Petraeus left Belgium for Afghanistan, in part to prepare for the November summit of the world’s only military bloc there in November, where NATO will adopt its new, 21st century, Strategic Concept and endorse plans for an integrated interceptor missile grid to cover almost the entire European continent in conjunction with, and under the control of, the U.S.

In reference to General Petraeus taking up his new duties, Rasmussen stated at a press conference with Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amado that “It has been a change of command but it will not be a change of strategy.”

A week after Stanley McChrystal’s resignation as head of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan [2], an ephemeral scandal that disappeared as quickly, which is to say instantaneously, as it developed, the U.S. Senate voted as it customarily does in matters of foreign policy – unanimously – and in a 99-0 vote confirmed Petraeus as the new commander of the world’s longest and largest-scale war.

He told Senate members on June 30 that “My sense is that the tough fighting will continue; indeed, it may get more intense in the next few months.”

A few days earlier he said of President Barack Obama’s proposed date for beginning the withdrawal of American and NATO troops from Afghanistan that the meaning of that pledge by the president, Petraeus’ commander-in-chief, was “one of urgency – not that July 2011 is when we race for the exits, reach for the light switch and flip it off.” Last December Petraeus asserted that there was no plan for a “rush to the exits” and that there “could be tens of thousands of American troops in Afghanistan for several years.” [3]

In May he spoke at an Armed Forces Day dinner in Louisville, Kentucky – on a day that Afghan President Hamid Karzai was visiting the same state – and insisted that “the US must continue to send troops to Afghanistan….” [4]

To indicate how thoroughly the Pentagon and NATO are inextricably enmeshed in not only the Afghan campaign but in a far broader and deeper partnership, a few days before Petraeus, speaking of his then-role as chief of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), said that he has striven to “operationalize” U.S.-NATO military integration at CENTCOM “where up to 60 representatives of coalition partner countries serve. In addition, officers from the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia act as representatives of CentCom, increasing further the need to share sensitive information.” [5]

Afghanistan falls within CENTCOM’s area of responsibility and the war in that country is a mechanism for extending the Pentagon’s military contacts, deployments, acquisition of bases and general warfighting interoperability with scores of nations both within and outside CENTCOM’s formal ambit.

In April, three months before taking up his Afghan war post, Petraeus was in Poland – covered by U.S. European Command (EUCOM) – to meet with the nation’s Chief of the General Staff, General Franciszek Gagor, discuss the war that has now cost the lives of nineteen Polish soldiers, and disclose that “in a few months a 800-1,000 strong U.S. battalion would reinforce Poland’s ISAF forces in the Afghan province of Ghazni.

“Petraeus said that the U.S. troops would be placed under the Polish commander who is responsible for the province.” [6]

He also met with Polish Defense Minister Bogdan Klich and President Lech Kaczynski as well as delivering a lecture at the National Defence Academy. Kaczynski, who would perish in an airplane crash three days later, presented Petraeus with the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland and the Iraq Star. [7]

Other new NATO members in Eastern Europe are equally involved, with the Pentagon employing seven new military bases in Bulgaria and Romania to train Stryker brigades and airborne troops for the war in Afghanistan. [8]

As commander of CENTCOM and superior to General McChrystal in Afghanistan, Petraeus methodically laid the groundwork for expanding the scope of the greater Afghan war throughout his command’s broad geographical reach, the heart of what has been deemed the broader Middle East – from Egypt in the West to Kazakhstan in the East, taking in Iraq and the rest of the Persian Gulf region, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen, and all of Central and much of South Asia. Read more of this post

War in Afghanistan: Illegal, Untenable, and Unwinnable

Rusting T-62 Soviet battle tanks sit in a battle tank graveyard.

by Stephen Lendman

May 30 Delaware County Times editorial headlined, “Is US fighting unwinnable war in Afghanistan” asking:

“Why should America (believe) it can (accomplish what the) Soviet Union (and) Britain couldn’t….? Public sentiment against it is growing, and “Many pundits say the war… can never be won militarily….” How many more “US service member” deaths are tolerable?

On January 21, 2010, Britain’s New Stateman sounded the same theme calling the Afghan war “unwinnable,” recent events showing intensified fighting, rising casualties, and a popular resistance determined to prevail. “Britain should be making plans to withdraw,” the publication concluded. So should America with no right to be there ethically, morally or legally, the war clearly in violation of US and international law like all others US forces waged since WW II.

On June 26, the UK Spectator, published since July 1828, was just as unequivocal, calling US and Kabul leadership “fractious, confused and contradictory, a sure sign that the war is being lost…. Yes, the war in unwinnable. History and time are on the Afghans side.”

Other publications voice the same sentiment, but not American ones, misreporting and backing lawless, losing bet despite souring public sentiment. A new Rasmussen poll shows nearly 60% of US voters believe American forces can’t win or they’re not sure, and 53% said the war isn’t worth the cost. In Britain, nearly two-thirds of the public call the war unwinnable, saying UK forces shouldn’t be there.

A recent Canadian poll showed about two-thirds of the population feel the war can’t be won, 59% of them opposing their country’s involvement. Nearly two-thirds of Australians want their nation’s forces out, and a June 2009 Pew Global Attitudes survey showed public sentiment in three-fourths of the 25 countries surveyed against the war, wanting US and NATO troops withdrawn.

Only in America do major media pundits and editorial writers still back an illegal, unwinnable war, (and the Iraq one), The New York Times, in the lead, calling it “central to American security,” hoping a Petraeus strategy will “genuinely blood(y)” the Taliban, after nearly nine futile years of trying under a dozen Iraq and Afghanistan commanders.

On June 27, Washington Post writer, Greg Jaffe, headlined the frustration saying, “Military disturbed by rapid turnover at top in Afghan, Iraq wars,” commanders falling like tenpins, including Tommy Franks, William Fallon, Ricardo Sanchez, George Casey, David McKiernan, and Stanley McChrystal, sacked not for deriding his superiors, but for losing an unwinnable war, and, in fact, suggesting it like other generals and lower-ranking officers. So do professionals outside the military not reported in the mainstream. More on them below.

UK’s Liberation Party – LP (Hizb ut-Tahir) Report

Founded in 1953, the Liberation Party “works to project a positive image of Islam to Western societies and engages in dialogue with Western thinkers, policymakers and academics.”

Its January 2010 report titled, “Afghanistan & Pakistan: The Unwinnable War” reviewed the war’s futility, recommending “an alternative path for the region,” what’s very much needed but not considered.

Instead, Afghans have suffered brutally under war and occupation — empty promises delivering death, destruction, impoverishment and depravation to a country John Pilger called more of a moonscape than a functioning nation, the result of sustained conflicts, violence and instability.

Today “the West has lost any form of moral authority,” the puppet Karzai regime a farcical caricature of a government — corrupted, inept, and disdainful of its people in collusion with Washington, NATO, war profiteers, drug barons, and brutal warlords, a combination destroying the fabric of life in the country.

Clearly, “The neo-colonial mission has failed,” yet Washington, Britain, and NATO “decided to double down” their bet and devote more resources under a new commander to “finish the job,” an impossible mission short of mass extermination and laying waste to the entire country, turning it all and surrounding areas into moonscapes, perhaps the strategy under the next commander after this one fails and the war drags on, spreads, and inflames the entire Muslim world to a greater degree than already.

No wonder a popular resistance flourishes, supported by growing numbers seeing it as their best chance for liberation no matter what’s next. Priority one is route the occupier and restore national sovereignty, perhaps inspiring Iraqis, Pakistanis, and other Muslim nations to achieve theirs by expunging America’s presence and influence in the region, a malignancy destroying it.

The LP concludes the following:

  • like in Vietnam, the war is unwinnable, occupation producing a never-ending cycle of violence, resentment, hatred and retaliation having a devastating effect on the people;
  • under Washington and NATO, puppet governance is atrocious, corrupt, inept and unacceptable;
  • troop strength at any level can’t prevail; waging war on the Taliban means fighting 50 million Pashtuns supporting them and growing numbers of others;
  • an exit strategy based on Afghan security forces doing NATO’s bidding won’t work; evidence shows no trust and increasing instances of belligerence against occupying troops;
  • calling Al-Qaeda and the Taliban America’s threat is bogus to distract from its real aim — permanent occupation, exploiting Afghanistan’s resources, and using the country as a land-based aircraft carrier against its major rivals, Russia militarily and China economically;
  • “growing and influential voices are now questioning the cost to Pakistan of supporting America’s war;” it’s counter-productive, destabilizing, and destructive to an already troubled nation, weakened further by allying with Washington’s regional wars;
  • America and NATO have no legitimacy in Afghanistan or Iraq; both wars are illegal; the occupations breed resentment, hatred, and a never-ending cycle of violence; both countries deserve their sovereignty, stable economies, “a system consistent with peoples’ values,” freedom from foreign dominance, and new priorities must place popular “needs over the gains of a few or of private enterprise,” exploiters for their own interests.

The LP concludes saying millions share its discontent, suggesting a “politics of hope” over Western war, occupation, corruption and despair. It recommends “a genuine end to the occupation” so Afghans can restore what worked well for 1,300 years before Western invaders showed up. “Unless the scourge of foreign occupation ends, the region will continue” to suffer and be dysfunctional. Once expunged, it can “independently tackle (its) innumerable….challenges (including) unbridled poverty….education (and) rampant corruption, most of all in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Israeli-controlled Palestine.”

Healthcare NOT Warfare Campaign Report

Titled “War in Afghanistan: Untenable and Unwinnable,” journalist, Norman Solomon, prepared it in autumn 2009 after visiting the country with others on a fact-finding trip, his itinerary including:

“discussions with top officials to encounters with malnourished refugees, and from briefings at multi-billion dollar agencies to small grassroots NGO offices.”

Eight key findings followed: Read more of this post

Afghans are freedom fighters fighting for their country and fighting for their faith


Afghanistan Sitrep

By William R. Polk

On June 24, the International Herald Tribune published an editorial from its parent, The New York Times, entitled “Obama’s Decision.” Both the attribution – printing in the two newspapers which ensures that the editorial will reach both directly and through subsidiary reprinting almost every “decision maker” in the world – and the date – just before the appointment of David Petraeus to succeed Stanley McChrystal – are significant. They could have suggested a momentary lull in which basic questions on the Afghan war might have been reconsidered.

That did not happen. The President made clear his belief that the strategy of the war was sound and his commitment to continue it even if the general responsible for it had to be changed.

The editorial sounded a different note arising from the events surrounding the fall of General McChrystal: Mr. Obama, said The Times, “must order all of his top advisers to stop their sniping and maneuvering” and come up with a coherent political and military plan for driving back the Taliban and building a minimally effective Afghan government.”

In short, Mr. Obama must get his team together and evolve a plan.

Unfortunately, the task he faces is not that simple.

First, consider the “team.” It has two major components, the military officers whom McChrystal gathered in Kabul. As they made clear in the Rolling Stone interview, they think of themselves as “Team America” and hold in contempt everyone else. Those who don’t fully subscribe to their approach to the war are unpatriotic, stupid or cowardly. Those officers are not alone. Agreeing with them is apparently now a large part of the professional military establishment. They are the junior officers whom David Petraeus and Stanley McChrystal have selected, promoted and with whom they take their stand..

The other “component” is not a group but many groups with different agendas and constituencies. The most crucial for my purposes here are the advisers to the President; they were dismissed out of hand as “the wimps in the White House.” Most, but not all, were civilians. Other senior military officers, now retired, who are not part of “Team America” and its adherents were also disparaged. Famously, General Jim Jones, the director of the National Security Council staff, was called a “clown.”

These were the comments that forced Mr. Obama’s hand and were what the press latched upon to explain the events. But many missed the point that McChrystal had just a few days before his dismissal written a devastating report on his mission. Confidential copies of it were obtained by the London newspaper, The Independent on Sunday, which published it today, but of course the President had seen it earlier. Essentially, its message boiled down to failure.

McChrystal pointed out that he faced a “resilient and growing insurgency,” with too few troops and expected no progress in the coming six months. Despite expenditures of at least $7 billion a month, his politico-military strategy wasn’t working. Within weeks of the “victory” over the Taliban in the agricultural district of Marja, the Taliban were back and the box full of government he had announced proved to be nearly empty. As the expression went in the days of the Vietnam war, whatever happened during the day, the guerrillas “owned the night.” As he described it, Marja was the “bleeding ulcer” of the American campaign.

Behind McChrystal’s words, the figures were even more devastating: Marja, despite the descriptions in the press is not a town, much less a city; it is a hundred or so square miles of farm land with dispersed hamlets in which about 35,000 people live and work. Into that small and lightly populated area, McChrystal poured some 15,000 troops, and they failed to secure it.

To appreciate what those figures mean, consider them in context of Petraeus’s counterinsurgency theory, on which McChrystal was basing his strategy. As he had explained it, Marja should be taken, secured and held. Then an administration – McChrystal’s “government in a box” — should be imposed upon it. Despite all the hoopla about the brilliant new strategy, it was hardly new. In fact it was a replay of the strategy the French General Lyautey called the tache d’huile (the oil spot) and applied in Indochina over a century ago. We also tried it in Vietnam, renaming it the “ink spot.” The hope was that the “spot,” once fixed on the Marja, would smudge into adjoining areas and so eventually spread across the country. Clear and simple, but unfortunately, like so much in counterinsurgency theory, it never seemed to work.

Petraeus’s counterinsurgency theory also illuminated how to create the “spot.” What was required was a commitment of forces in proportion to native population size. Various numbers have been put forth but a common number is about one soldier for each 50 inhabitants. Marja was the area chosen for the “spot.” The people living there, after all, were farmers, wedded to the land, and so should be more tractable than the wild warriors along the tribal frontier. Moreover, it was the place where the first significant American aid program, the Helmand Valley Authority, had been undertaken in the late 1950s. So, if an area were to be favorable to Americans, it ought to be Marja. But, to take no chances, General McChrystal decided to employ overwhelming force. So, what is particularly stunning about the failure in Marja is that the force applied was not the counterinsurgency model of 1 soldier for each 50 inhabitants but nearly 1 soldier for each 2 inhabitants.

If these numbers were projected to the planned offensive in the much larger city of Kandahar, which has a population of nearly 500,000, they become impossibly large. Such an attack would require at least four times as many US and NATO as in Marja. That is virtually the entire fighting force and what little control over Marja and most other areas, perhaps even the capital, Kabul, that now exists would have to be given up or else large numbers of additional American troops would have to be engaged. Moreover, in response to such an attack, it would be possible for the insurgents also to redeploy so the numbers would again increase.

The more fundamental question, which needs to be addressed, is why didn’t this relatively massive introduction of troops with awesome and overwhelming fire power succeed. Just a few days before he was fired, as I have mentioned, General McChrystal posed, but could not answer, that question. I hope President Obama is also pondering it.

For those who read history, the answer is evident. But, as I have quoted in my book Understanding Iraq, the great German philosopher, Georg Willhelm Friedrich Hegel, despaired that “Peoples and governments never have learned anything from history or acted on principles deduced from it” and, therefore, as the American philosopher George Santayana warned us, not having learned from history, we are doomed to repeat it. Indeed, it seems that each generation of Americans has to start all over again to find the answers. Who among our leaders and certainly among college students now really remembers Vietnam? So, consider these simple facts:

The first fact, whether we like it or not, is that nearly everyone in the world has a deep aversion to foreigners on his land. As far as we know, this feeling goes back to the very beginning of our species because we are territorial animals. Dedication to the protection of homeland permeates history. And the sentiment has never died out. Today we call it nationalism. Nationalism in various guises is the most powerful political idea of our times. Protecting land, culture, religion and people from foreigners is the central issue in insurgency. The former head of the Pakistani intelligence service, who has had unparallelled experience with the Taliban over many years, advised us that we should open our eyes to seeing the Afghan insurgents as they see themselves: “They are freedom fighters fighting for their country and fighting for their faith.” We agreed when they were fighting the Russians; now, when many of the same people are fighting us, we see them only as terrorists. That label does not help us understand why they are fighting. Read more of this post

Nothing is going right for USA in final phase in Afghanistan


By Asif Haroon Raja

Washington and Kabul were marching in step till end 2009. As the final phase in Afghanistan drew nearer, the two fell out of steps and so far they have been unable to get back in steps. Major reason for this is Washington ’s unhappiness over Karzai’s performance and latter’s conflicting views on solving Afghan imbroglio. Obama’s straight talk with him advising him to improve and produce results caused heart burns to Karzai. He got miffed at the role of USA and UK in last presidential election and feels convinced that it had been purposely made controversial to weaken his position. He has become aggressive and has been off and on giving anti-US statements and even threatening to join the ranks of Taliban.

Karzai is not in favor of Kandahar operation and wants reconciliation with all without making a wedge between reconcilable and irreconcilable. In this respect he has been making repeated overtures to Pakistan which has been resented by several segments in Washington , India , Northern Alliance leaders and Israel . He suspects that rocket attack on the jirga he hosted at Kabul on 2 June was conducted either by intelligence chief Amrullah whom he subsequently sacked or Blackwater at the behest of USA . Sacking of Amrullah and interior minister by him was a major blow to USA in the given troubled times since the two were their loyalists. Seething with rage that he has been unseated at the behest of Pakistan , anti-Pakistan Amrullah organized an attack on an isolated post in Mohmand Agency held by paramilitary troops to cause embarrassment to Pakistan.

According to US Congressional subcommittee investigations led by John Tierney D-Mass, US military is paying millions of dollars to insurgents, Afghan warlords and corrupt government officials to ensure safe passage of supply of convoys. It is part of Pentagon’s $2.1 billion transport contract for food, water, fuel and ammunition to US troops serving at 200 forward bases. Reportedly Afghan security firms have been extorting as much as $4 million a week from contractors and then dishing out the booty to warlords and Taliban. Watan Risk Management Security firm under scrutiny contends it has to pay $1000 to $10000 in monthly bribes to every Afghan governor, police chief, local military unit whose territory is trespassed. Trucking companies maintain that for safe passage payments have to be made to local security firms with ties to Taliban, or warlords who control the roads. Such undesirable activities are undermining larger US objectives of curtailing corruption and strengthening effective governance in Afghanistan . Interestingly, in Pakistan instead of extorting money, militants torch supply convoys.

Another problem area is the flourishing drug trade which has doubled since 2005 and has helped finance insurgents and encouraged corruption. In Marjah , US troops stopped Afghan officials from destroying poppy fields. Read more of this post

%d bloggers like this: