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showed public sentiment in three-fourths of the 25 countries surveyed against the war, wanting US and NATO troops withdrawn.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

US Misfortunes in Afghanistan Will Not End

By Brig Asif Haroon Raja

With so many wise heads cobbled together in Kabul devising strategy how to finish the endgame in Afghanistan on a winning note, none has been able to come out with a workable and viable plan. George Bush led team intoxicated with power relied entirely on force and itched to crush any opposition coming their way. By the time they were unseated from power, they had inflicted incalculable harm to US prestige, image and credibility. The new team led by Obama promising a big change made no change in the overall war strategy. The only change Obama made was to shift centre of gravity from Iraq to Afghanistan and to crush Taliban-Al-Qaeda nexus through troop surge led by new military commanders Gen David Petraeus and Gen Stanley McChrystal who had supposedly done well on Iraq front. They were chosen to reverse the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. Policy makers did not learn any lesson when the troop surge failed to deliver in 2009. Rather, Helmand operation turned into a disaster resulting in large scale casualties of coalition troops.

Instead of making amends they are reinforcing failure through another troop surge of 30000 getting completed in August. Kandahar operation is being undertaken in September despite failure in Marjah. Vice President Joe Biden and many among Democrats were not in favor of sending additional forces as asked by Gen McChrystal. They suggested reducing number of troops and focusing on Taliban and al-Qaeda in Pakistan. They preferred greater use of missile strikes and Special Forces operations in Pakistan, seen as the main base of al-Qaeda.

Having flipped-flopped between self-defeating mix of surge and exit, US leaders are again treading simultaneously on the twin path of use of force and reconciliation. It speaks of utter confusion and uncertainty prevailing in Washington how to convert defeat into victory. They want to sail in two boats and hope to cross the stream by bleeding the Afghans with stick and trying to recon ciliate with them through carrot. After nine years of constant use of force the American leadership has now grudgingly agreed to Karzai’s proposal of reconciliation with Taliban, but arrogance comes their way. They want to first sufficiently hemorrhage the Taliban and then negotiate with them from position of strength. Karzai has been mandated to win over second and third tier leadership of Taliban including some members of Taliban Shura and ordinary fighters to be able to isolate hardliners led by Mullah Omar, Haqqani and Hikmatyar.

The success of new plan hinges on successful Kandahar operation, winning over sizeable number of Taliban leaders, killing irreconcilable Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders based in Afghanistan and FATA, expanding and training ANA and police, and making them operationally worthy to be able to assume charge by mid 2011. This plan has run into snags at the very outset due to several reasons. Kandahar operation has been postponed for the third time since Marjah operation was a fiasco and Helmand province as a whole is still restive. Civil administration has been unable to take over the administrative control of the province because of apathetic condition of ANA, Afghan police and other departments. Police serving in Helmand are addicted to opium and cannabis. The police being thoroughly corrupt are most hated by Afghans. As per Pentagon’s assessment prepared in April 2010, of 121 districts in Afghanistan, regarded as critical in struggle against Taliban, none support the government, 29 were sympathetic, and 48 districts either empathized with insurgency or backed it. Karzai regime has shown no improvement in curbing corruption or improving governance.

Worst of all for USA is the rebellious streaks emerging in Karzai who has started doubting the ability of coalition forces to defeat Taliban movement. NATO countries are keen to pull out because of rising casualty rate and economic constraints. In 2010, up to 23 June 75 fatalities of NATO have taken place which makes it the worst month since 2001. In August 2009, 77 foreign soldiers lost their lives which had forced McChrystal to abandon forward posts and concentrate in main cities. So far 295 casualties have occurred this year. Dutch and Canada have already announced their decision to withdraw. Strains have appeared between US senior military leadership and US Administration because of disagreements on conduct of war.

As if these woes were not enough for Obama, an interview of Gen McChrystal and his aides using derisive language against top US civil leadership published by Rolling Stone Magazine created a storm in Washington. US top officials including Obama, Joe Biden, Ambassador Eikenberry, Holbrooke and James Jones were contemptuously criticized. McChrystal’s main crib was that Obama was uninterested and rather uncomfortable in discussing Afghan war during a meeting at Oval Office. James Jones was called a clown and Holbrooke a wounded animal. Fuming Obama summoned McChrystal in Washington. Ignoring his apology he gave him his piece of mind and told to resign. His resignation from his current post of commander US and NATO forces in Afghanistan has been accepted and CENTCOM Commander Gen Petraeus asked to takeover his duties as well. Robert Gates has now ruled out major pullout in July 2011. Read more of this post

US “Surge” in Afghanistan in Disarray

by Barry Grey

In the midst of one of the bloodiest weeks for US and NATO forces in the nearly nine-year war in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the overall commander, announced Thursday that major military operations around Kandahar would be delayed until September.

The offensive had been slated to begin this month, but, as McChrystal admitted, the US has been unable to win the support either of tribal leaders and power brokers or of the populace in and around Afghanistan’s second largest city. The town of 450,000 in the heart of the Pashtun-dominated south is the birthplace of the Taliban and remains a key stronghold of the anti-occupation insurgency.

The top US general in Afghanistan also acknowledged that the much-touted US offensive earlier this year against Marjah, an insurgent stronghold in rural Helmand province, had failed to uproot the Taliban, who retain control of much of the region.

One recent study found that the majority of the population in Marjah had become more antagonistic to NATO forces than before the operation. Late last, month McChrystal referred to the region as “a bleeding ulcer.”

The worsening security situation for the US and NATO in Helmand was highlighted on Thursday when British Prime Minister David Cameron, on his first trip to Afghanistan, was prevented from making a scheduled appearance at a military base in the province after British officers intercepted calls indicating that insurgents were planning to shoot down his helicopter.

So far this month, at least 35 NATO soldiers have been killed, including at least 23 Americans. The week’s bloody toll began on Sunday, June 6, when 6 NATO troops were killed. The next day, 10 NATO troops were killed, 7 of them Americans. That was the deadliest day for occupation forces since the killing of 11 US troops in a helicopter crash last October.

On Tuesday, two US soldiers and a British soldier were killed in separate incidents in the south. On Wednesday, four more US soldiers died when their helicopter was shot down in Helmand province. A fifth NATO soldier was killed the same day.

Four additional NATO troops were killed Friday, including two Americans. On Saturday, a Polish soldier was killed in Ghazni province in eastern Afghanistan, and a second NATO soldier was killed in the north.

The death toll so far this year for US and NATO forces is more than double that of a year ago. Since the start of the war, more than 1,100 US soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan. This month, the war in Afghanistan surpassed Vietnam as the longest war in US history.

To date, the US and its allies have little to show for the increased carnage, which is far worse for the Afghan people. Speaking Thursday, on the first day of a two-day meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels, McChrystal hinted at the massive popular opposition, especially in the Pashtun south, to the US-led occupation.

Explaining the decision to delay the start of the military offensive in Kandahar, he said, “When you go to protect people, the people have to want you to protect them.”

He suggested that the operation in and around Kandahar would continue at least until the end of the year, telling the Financial Times, “Operationally, it will be tough to the end of the year, casualties will stay high and may go higher than they are now.”
Read more of this post

Pakistan’s Role In Afghanistan

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-> THE KEY TO AFGHANISTAN’S SECURITY IS PAKISTAN

-> THE KEY TO PAKISTAN’S SECURITY IS AFGHANISTAN

by Gordon Duff

US policy in Afghanistan hasn’t so much failed as it hasn’t even materialized. With the original rationale for overthrowing the Taliban their relationship with Osama bin Laden now long forgotten, buried with, not only the death of bin Laden many years ago but much more. No ties between bin Laden and 9/11 have ever been established, none of the training camps seen in the online videos existed anywhere but in fiction, truth is such a delicate thing. Children in Afghanistan are taught to be fighters from birth. Training an Afghan to fight is like training a fish to swim.

The legacy of Karzai and Hollbrooke and McChrystal, pointless posturing, mismanagement, a deluge of narcotics and a sea of corruption have spelled failure, a failure from the first days, a failure in Marjeh, and more failures to come. The result of these failed polices is more delegitimization and debt for the US and destabilization and terrorism for Pakistan, but it has been far worse for the tribal regions of both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The explosion of terrorism has come with a variety of causes, beginning with the collapse of the Taliban, flawed though it may have been as a government, it governed, eliminated drug production and brought stability. The arrogance of the Taliban was misconstrued by the United States, misconstrued purposefully by a government looking to point a finger of blame somewhere for 9/11, point away from Israel, away from Saudi Arabia and away from themselves. The Taliban in Afghanistan made the perfect “fall guy.”

Whatever government the Taliban was, built partially from the Mujahideen fighters the US and Pakistan armed against the Soviet backed Kabul regime in the 80s, the Taliban had become inconsistent with the needs of the majority of the people of Afghanistan, certainly the northern tribes, now overrepresented through Karzai and his Indo-Israeli connections. The Taliban were destined to fail Afghanistan’s women who not only deserve education but also full participation in national life. With so many of Afghanistan’s most talented having fled the Soviet occupation, every human resource is a vital one.

Pakistan had understood the Mujihideen and many of their military had built strong relations there. That was decades ago, decades that mean much more in Afghanistan than the west. There, almost two generations have past and allegiances are only a memory. The desire many in Pakistan have expressed, to see an American withdrawal and the return to a stability from the past is unrealistic, as that stability is from a past that may never have existed nor can it be created. The Russian occupation wiped out any remnants of a cohesive Afghanistan.
Read more of this post

When the Guns Fizzed and the Gizmos Fizzled

All the “Daisy Cutters”, Nuclear tipped bombs, and the finest drones on the planet could not stand up to the raw grit of those that opposed occupation. All the kings horses and the all the kings men could not put humpty back together or subdue the fierce fighters of Afghanistan and Pakistan. There are clear signs of operationalization of the peace plan in Kabul. The surge was imply to assuage the hawks in the Republican Party–the real Afghan reassessment was to get American boys out of the treacherous Hindu Kush. Defeat is a clichéd word–there are no winners in war. Victory is exaggerated concept. Absolute defeats have never been able to quell the resistance. Absolute victories have always lead to future wars–be it Sparta, Versailles or Kabul.

As Shakespeare would say “when the hurly burly’s done, and the battle is lost and won“–there is time to make a fresh start.

When a country is not able to impose its will and might–it is some sort of defeat. The Americans today need a face saving exit strategy from Afghanistan. The Taliban, Pakistan and all other countries of the world should assist the US in a phased, expeditious and honorable withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Over the past several years, we have predicted that the US will exit Afghanistan in 2011 right before the US elections. The tell tale signs of the operationalization of this policy is writ in large all over the billboards called newspapers.

There are numerous indications confirming our well calculated predictions: the polite decline to Delhi on their exuberance to begin training the Afghan forces; the offering of Shadow drones to Pakistan; the peace talks with the Afghan Taliban; the mood and the statements of the big boys in preperation of the Afghan Conference on January 28th, 2010; the acceptance of the Pakistani point of view on halting further operations in FATA; the usage of Pakistani mediators in back channel diplomacy to include the Taliban in the current Kabul government; and the offer of further US military and financial aid to Pakistan. The carrots offered to Pakistan are not for free–Milton Friedman was right “that ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”. Pakistan is being offered new toys and more Dollars for her assistance in helping the American extricate themselves out of the Afghan quagmire.

America had a decision to make. Stick with General McChrystal’s policy of more soldiers, more mercenaries and more war–supplemented with more drone bombing and more targeted murders (drones and otherwise). More war has always created more enemies. This has never been more true than in Afghanistan and Pakistan today.

Washington’s other choice was less war, less soldiers and less enemies. President Obama hedged his bets with the first option, and then is pursuing the 2nd option aggressively.

While some may claim that the Great Game is over–and Pakistan won. However, this is not the time for crowing from the rooftops. This is the time to let loose the doves from the allow them to to fly into the sun. There are many steps between the lips and cup. There are many impediments to peace in the Panshir and tranquility in Waziristan. We believe that the right steps are being taken.

A show of strength followed up with massive financial aid and assistance will yield the right results. Once the troops begin leaving, the civilian surge, accompanied with suitcases full of Dollars will persuade the warlords to switch sides (just like the Northern Alliance switched sides in 2001).

There are huge dangers to he peace deal. Bharat (aka India) keenly aware of its sagging influence in Central Asia (specially after the ignominious eviction from Tajikistan) may play the chagrined loser, and stage another Mumbai type of false flag, and try to wage war on Pakistan. This would derail the peace plan. Some of Bharati surrogates in Balochistan and the TTP may be allowed to torpedo peace in the Khyber Pass by assassinating another Pakistani leader, in trying to create ethnic strife in Pakistan. Other international powers may have vested interests in ensuring that the Taliban do not come into power or even share the government in Kabul. Both Israel and Iran are scared of The Talibs.

If President Obama is able to pull this off–it will be a miracle. He has to keep the Indians at bay by selling them toys (double advantage, dollars and Peace); he has to appease the Pakistanis so that they continue their assistance in achieving peace; he has to browbeat Iranian resistance through sanctions and threats; he has to assuage the Chinese that Afghan venture is over with no threat to Beijing; and he has to keep the Russians cool so that they do not think that Central Asia has been taken from them. If he can do this tap dance, the US corporations can make huge profits.

Delhi needs Viagra to prove its manhood. The US can offer the blue pills in many forms–obsolete nuclear plants declared unsafe for America, stripped down F-16s (with lots of spare parts and services), and tons of below quality equipment that the Indians would love to plunk down hard cash for. After all the business of America is doing business. If the US can figure out how to sell billions of Dollars of machines (which will rust in a few years) to Delhi that would be a great achievement. If the US can make a profit out of the Afghan war to recuperate some of its losses, it will be a happy camper. Read more of this post

NATO, Afghanistan and Israel

Turkish president, Abdullah Gul, while addressing the two-day conference of the defence ministers from NATO’s 28-member-state in Istanbul on February 5, 2010 – told them that Afghanistan belongs to the Afghan people and the country’s problems can only be solved by the Afghans and not the western countries occupying Afghanistan. He also told the ministers that over 15 million Afghan children need food, clean water and education and not foreign troops. The conference was also attended by pro-Israel British politician Catherine Ashton on behalf of EU and and US puppet government in Kabul’s interior and defence ministers.

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen earlier admitted that Afghan resistance to the US and its willing collaborators – have been gaining more and more popularity among the frustrated Afghan population. According to him the resistance had only 400 members in 2004, jumped to 25,000 in 2009 and 30,000 now. These ill-equipped Taliban are fighting against the world’s most deadly armies of close to 140,000-strong. The chief of the US-coalition forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal told the conference: “The coalition forces are not winning the war in Afghanistan”.

According to the Christian Science Monitor (September 11, 2009), Taliban have recaptured  more than 80% of Afghanistan territory. Former Senator Fred Thompson, last year also admitted that the US has lost the war in Afghanistan many years ago. “It really doesn’t matter how President Obama divides the Afghan baby, how he splits the difference between McChrystal and Biden. Because the war has been lost,” Thompson said on his radio show”

Earlier during the London Conference on Afghanistan, held on January 27-28 in London (UK) – it was revealed that NATO has offered US$300 million to Taliban if they lay-down their armed resistance against US-NATO forces. The offer was rejected by Taliban leadership as the defeated West’s  ”exit strategy”. Read more of this post

US far from winning in Afghanistan: McChrystal

The commander of NATO and US forces in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, says the coalition forces are “not winning” the war in Afghanistan.

McChrystal made remarks at a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Turkey.

He told reporters in Istanbul on Thursday that he does not believe the allied efforts in Afghanistan has “turned a corner.”

“I’m not prepared to say that we’ve turned the corner.”

“I still will tell you that I believe the situation in Afghanistan is serious,” McChrystal said on the sidelines of the Istanbul summit.

While US President Barack Obama was considering a troop surge last October, McChrystal had warned that the situation in Afghanistan was deteriorating and the coalition risked failure if it did not send more troops.

General McChrystal, however, claimed that US-led forces had made “significant progress” last year and set the stage for even more progress this year.

He noted that success in the war-weary country is something that is difficult to measure.

“This is all a war of perceptions. This is not a physical war in terms of how many people you kill, how much ground you capture, how many bridges you blow up,” said McChrystal. Read more of this post

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