Afghanistan

Updates

New Years Day 2011 – The U.S.war in Afghanistan is not about al-Qaeda.

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Similar to the Pakistan section, this Afghanistan section, at this point in time is based on Ahmed Rashid’s article in the October 8, 2009 issue of New York Review of Books. Where other sources are used, they are noted.

A fuller more historically expanded look at Afghanistan is needed here. This summary takes as its functioning starting point summer 09. An historical background is obviously needed, as the U.S. invasion and occupation of the country needs to be explained and fleshed out, as does the role and history of anti-Soviet forces in the country, along with an explication of the Taliban.

This overview details the role of the generally denominated largest actors (Karzai, the U.S./Western occupation forces, Taliban)and does not include the alternate viewpoints such as RAWA (Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan) or Malalai Joya who speak of a situation in which civilians are caught between death unleashed from the sky by the Western military forces and death on the ground unleashed by warlords, druglords and the Taliban. From these alternative viewpoints, the Afghan elections are a tragic farce conducted by a government which lacks all legitimacy.

Perhaps the real storyline here is the struggle for power between the narrative promoted by the Western occupation forces and Western mainstream media, and the narrative that pits civilians against the government, druglords, warlords, and Western occupation forces, which is not represented here presently.

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The true ‘genius’ of the Bush/Cheney administration was to present subsequent adminstrations and the U.S. as a whole with a set of ongoing situations, Ariel Sharon’s ‘facts on the ground’, which has left the U.S. both a morally and financially bankrupt but militarily powerful, banana republic (in the sense that the rule of law does not apply to the ruling oligarchs, of both political parties, who have made off with the nation’s treasures leaving the public bereft of education, health care and infrastructure) and politically restricted regarding means to chart a new course. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are two of those situations.

Thus, instead of pursuing a police action to catch the perpetrators of the 9-11 acttacks, Bush went to war against the Taliban, couching this decision within a the fog of the so-called war on terror and the need to ‘defend’ the nation. This decision left some 30000 troops in Afghanistan according to anarticle or 38000 according to an article in the LA Times. The national security rhetoric surrounding the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan would allow Obama to be charged with weakening the nation’s security and being a typical-Democrat-military-weakling-wus should he choose to withdraw military forces.

The purpose of the western military action is diffuse at best and at worst, simply missing in action. As an alternative to the mindnumbing 9-11 connection, the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv noted in 2002 that “If one looks at the map of the big American bases created [in the Afghan war], one is struck by the fact that they are completely identical to the route of the projected oil pipeline to the Indian Ocean.”

Ma’ariv also states, “Osama bin Laden did not comprehend that his actions serve American interests… If I were a believer in conspiracy theory, I would think that bin Laden is an American agent. Not being one I can only wonder at the coincidence.” [Chicago Tribune, 3/18/2002]. Given a lack of justifications for the Western occupation of Afghanistan, this ‘coincidence’ is in contention as a viable explanation.

Players

Rashid was told by Americn officials that Bush was warned by military officials that the Afghani situation was “going from bad to worse”, and that more money and troops were needed, that pressure needed to be applied to Pakistan, that reconstruction was not moving and the Afghan elections needed to be postponed. Bush ignored all the advice other than urging the Afghanis to postpone the election.

While Obama has acted to commit more troops and money to improve the Afghan security forces and the economic situation, the elections have been the main focus as attempts to provide secure environments for voting to take place.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai became convinced that Obama and his group wanted to replace him as president before the election and were backing other presidential candidates, thus accounting for extensive rigging of the election.

The rigging has contributed to weakening the legitimacy of the Afghan state and provided the Taliban with more reasons for claiming an ever increasing victory. They now control 164 of 364 districts along with an increase in attacks and rising American deaths.

American military officials admit that the Taliban insurgency is growing in sophistication and that the situation is deteriorating.

Before and after the elections, the Taliban have mounted attacks in Kunduz in the north east and the north and west, areas where their presence had not been felt. Prior to the election, American, Afghani and British forces waged a campaign in in the southern province of Helmand to recapture territory and provide secrue conditions for voting. The English lost 37 in the Helmand campaign.

Only between one and five percent voted in the elections in Helmand and Kandahar according to estimates by Western officials. The Taliban efforts to derail the elections largely succeeded. The election rigging has served to undermine the Afghani state and western efforts in Afghanistan. Rashid says that the rigging began with Karzai’s allignment with “regional warlords, drug trafickers and officials in the provinces who were terrified of losing their lucrative sinecures”.

Further, Rashid points out that the U.N. may have made a big mistake by turning over the running of the elections to the Afghan Independent Election Commission instead of running the elections itself as it did in 2004. A U.N. backed commission found evidence of electoral fraud. New elections are scheduled for Nov. 7, 09.

As of late in October, 09, elements comprising the situation include:

-after President Obama boosted the number of U.S. forces by 21 000 the number of western troops number 100 000.A recommendation by General McChrystal would increase the troop numbers by 40 000. Obama has not decided on a further increase in troop numbers, although the decision is said to be in the offing. Will the U.S. choose to increase military stakes in Aghanistan or begin to wind down?”

– “Obama’s overall plan has been to achieve security by doubling the Afghan army’s strength to 240 000 men and the police by 60 000”. (Such efforts by the Afghan state requires lots of money to support it, for years. Not sure where those financials would could from. Not taken from the Rashid article on which this page is based.)

– U.S. public support for the war in Afghanistan is weakening. On the other hand, Rashid says people in the region that an western withdrawal of troops would possibly result in a Taliban takeover of Kabal, and their strategy of waiting the west out until they withdraw military from Afghanistan would succeed, Al-Qaeda’s position would be strengthened, and the Pakistani Taliban would be able to “liberate” parts of Pakistan.

– a second round of elections on which to some degree the legitimacy of the Afghan state rests, schedule for Nov. 7, 09, elections which also to some degree can assist in justifying the military efforts of the U.S. and NATO in Afghanistan. How will the second round of elections and their results play out?