Obama raises the ante

With his announcement yesterday, Tuesday Dec. 1, 2009, to add 30 000 more troops to the American contingent in Afghanistan to the 70 000 who were already in the country (20 000 of these had been sent by Obama last winter) can now be called the war president, if he wishes. It should be noted that there are some 70 000 paramilitaries in Afghanistan supporting the American war effort. The President also said that after 18 months the troops will begin to be withdrawn.

The point of all this unclear to LSW. It is hard to see how American military efforts will make the U.S. safer. The Taliban did not attack the U.S. While the Taliban may have allowed Al-Qaeda to operate from Afghanistan, the latter organization, now apparently numbering some hundreds, is not well liked by the population or the Taliban, who have no wish to suffer the same bombardment from unseen planes as they suffered in 2001.

A foriegn military presence in all likelihood will increase hostilities as would a foreign military presence in any country, especially when the foreigners are killing civilians in large numbers, as NATO is doing in Afghanistan.

It is hard to see what Obama’s reasons for continuing a major foreign military presence in Afghanistan if it is not linked to the Caspian Sea oil and gas resources as well as to establishing a major military presence, in the form of yet another gigantic embassy and bases, in the region.

Listen to this astonishing interview with Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, retired Col. Lawrence Wilkerson. He speaks of the President’s, any president, severe difficulty when challenging the desires or intentions of the military industrial complex. My ears about fell off listening to these observations by a solid career well-respected military man. He also brought in the assassination of JFK. In addition he notes that an increase of 250 000 troops would provide the U.S. with a 50% chance of ‘victory’. The 30 000 increase is a drop in the bucket.

Democracy Now uses its Wednesday Dec. 2, 2009 program to examine Obama’s decision.
More war
Rep. Kucinich on Afghanistan War: “We’re Acting Like a Latter Day Version of the Roman Empire”
Vietnam Vet, Scholar Andrew Bacevich on Obama War Plan: “The President Has Drawn the Wrong Lessons From His Understanding of the History of War
Nir Rosen: “We Managed to Make the Taliban Look Good”

Not to be missed is Juan cole’s article on Salon.

Some of the points he raises are:

– the apparent success of the ‘surge’ in Iraq consisted of the reduction of violence in Baghdad which was a result of the Shiites basically ethnically cleansed the city of Sunnis, the success of Maliki’s operation in Basra which could not have been achieved without air support by the U.S., the reduction of violence on the part of the Mahdi army which was a result of Iran’s involvement and the reduction of violence committed by Sunnis who were willing to join efforts to fight Al-Sunni extremists evolved from the after effects of the ethnic cleansing suffered in Baghdad and the power of the Shiites.
As such, the ‘surge’ in Iraq is nothing to apply in Afghanistan.

-Afghanistan is not Iraq. The Karzai government controls only about 30% of the country, with the Taliban controlling 15% and warlords the rest. In Afghanistan Pashtun are the most numerous but group but only pro-Pashtuns are U.S. allies, while other population groups, the Tajiks, the Hasara, the Uzbeks are U.S. allies.

-The Pashtuns, unlike the Iraqi Sunnis, have not lost a civil war.

-Cole writes, “Standing up an Afghanistan security force is a key element of Obama’s plan, as it was a central strategy in Iraq for the Bush administration and its allies. Doing so in Afghanistan, however, is a far more daunting task than in Iraq.”
Only 10% of the Afghan army is literate and one in six are drug addicts.
The Afghan army is made up of a mix of the country’s ethnic groups which creates a lack of stability as one ethnic group’s soldiers operate on the territory of other ethnic groups.
He writes of the police, “are considered much worse — poorly trained, undisciplined and held to be highly corrupt.”

-The notion that the Afghan army and police can rapidly be trained into effective forces for implementing law and order is by most observers considered “preposterous”. And even if an effective army and police could be established, the cost would surpass any ability Afghanistan might afford (LSW). Who would pay? The strapped for cash Americans? Wall Street perhaps? the Europeans, the Chinese, the Indians, the Iranians?
An article filled with Cole’s usual insights and educational opportunities.

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