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Chris Hedges: There Is No Reason For Us To Be In Afghanistan - Everyone Knows It & It Spells Defeat

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Hissyspit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-22-09 04:31 AM
Original message
Chris Hedges: There Is No Reason For Us To Be In Afghanistan - Everyone Knows It & It Spells Defeat
Edited on Wed Jul-22-09 05:16 AM by Hissyspit
http://www.alternet.org/world/141478/there_is_no_reason...

There Is No Reason for Us to Be in Afghanistan -- Everyone Knows It, and It Spells Defeat

By Chris Hedges, Truthdig. Posted July 21, 2009.

The confusion of purpose in Afghanistan mirrors the confusion on the ground. We are embroiled in a civil war.

Al-Qaida could not care less what we do in Afghanistan. We can bomb Afghan villages, hunt the Taliban in Helmand province, build a 100,000-strong client Afghan army, stand by passively as Afghan warlords execute hundreds, maybe thousands, of Taliban prisoners, build huge, elaborate military bases and send drones to drop bombs on Pakistan. It will make no difference. The war will not halt the attacks of Islamic radicals. Terrorist and insurgent groups are not conventional forces. They do not play by the rules of warfare our commanders have drilled into them in war colleges and service academies. And these underground groups are protean, changing shape and color as they drift from one failed state to the next, plan a terrorist attack and then fade back into the shadows. We are fighting with the wrong tools. We are fighting the wrong people. We are on the wrong side of history. And we will be defeated in Afghanistan as we will be in Iraq.

The cost of the Afghanistan war is rising. Tens of thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed or wounded. July has been the deadliest month in the war for NATO combatants, with at least 50 troops, including 26 Americans, killed. Roadside bomb attacks on coalition forces are swelling the number of wounded and killed. In June, the tally of incidents involving roadside bombs, also called improvised explosive devices (IEDs), hit 736, a record for the fourth straight month; the number had risen from 361 in March to 407 in April and to 465 in May. The decision by President Barack Obama to send 21,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan has increased our presence to 57,000 American troops. The total is expected to rise to at least 68,000 by the end of 2009. It will only mean more death, expanded fighting and greater futility.

- snip -

We are losing the war in Afghanistan. When we invaded the country eight years ago the Taliban controlled about 75 percent of Afghanistan. Today its reach has crept back to about half the country. The Taliban runs the poppy trade, which brings in an annual income of about $300 million a year. It brazenly carries out attacks in Kabul, the capital, and foreigners, fearing kidnapping, rarely walk the streets of most Afghan cities. It is life-threatening to go into the countryside, where 80 percent of all Afghanis live, unless escorted by NATO troops. And intrepid reporters can interview Taliban officials in downtown coffee shops in Kabul. Osama bin Laden has, to the amusement of much of the rest of the world, become the Where's Waldo of the Middle East. Take away the bullets and the bombs and you have a Gilbert and Sullivan farce.

No one seems to be able to articulate why we are in Afghanistan. Is it to hunt down bin Laden and al-Qaida? Is it to consolidate progress? Have we declared war on the Taliban? Are we building democracy? Are we fighting terrorists there so we do not have to fight them here? Are we "liberating" the women of Afghanistan? The absurdity of the questions, used as thought-terminating cliches, exposes the absurdity of the war. The confusion of purpose mirrors the confusion on the ground. We don't know what we are doing.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the new commander of U.S. and NATO-led troops in Afghanistan, announced recently that coalition forces must make a "cultural shift" in Afghanistan. He said they should move away from their normal combat orientation and toward protecting civilians. He understands that airstrikes, which have killed hundreds of civilians, are a potent recruiting tool for the Taliban. The goal is lofty but the reality of war defies its implementation. NATO forces will always call in close air support when they are under attack. This is what troops under fire do. They do not have the luxury of canvassing the local population first. They ask questions later. The May 4 aerial attack on Farah province, which killed dozens of civilians, violated standing orders about airstrikes. So did the air assault in Kandahar province last week in which four civilians were killed and 13 were wounded. The NATO strike targeted a village in the Shawalikot district. Wounded villagers at a hospital in the provincial capital told AP that attack helicopters started bombarding their homes at about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday. One man said his 3-year-old granddaughter was killed. Combat creates its own rules, and civilians are almost always the losers.

MORE

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TexasObserver Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-22-09 04:34 AM
Response to Original message
1. Recommend
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Luminous Animal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-22-09 04:40 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Yep.
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Amos Moses Donating Member (551 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-22-09 05:00 AM
Response to Original message
3. K&R
War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2SaM8RJ30c
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aquart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-22-09 05:13 AM
Response to Original message
4. I said that the day we said we were going in.
But hey.
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nightrain Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-22-09 05:22 AM
Response to Original message
5. thanks for posting this. Chris Hedges has a particularly insightful
sensitive and honest critique, as usual.
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Raster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-22-09 07:08 AM
Response to Original message
6. The Military Industrial Complex MUST HAVE A WAR! That is the action that justifies its existence.
Edited on Wed Jul-22-09 07:18 AM by Raster
If there is no war, there is no need for the MASSIVE military-industrial infrastructure dedicated to producing war and its accouterments. If there is no military-industrial complex, than there are no outrageously staggering profits for the corporations and entities dedicated to producing packaged death. If the warfare corporations are not producing their staggering, obscene profits, no monies go to their wealthy shareholders.

So you see, war is a good business. Invest a child today. :kick:

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HamdenRice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-22-09 07:17 AM
Response to Original message
7. These are questions that should be directed to Bush and Cheney
That said, as someone who was in lower Manhattan on 9/11 and saw the destruction and carnage, I don't agree there was NO reason to invade Afghanistan. Even though I'm a skeptic about the official 9/11 story and have posted about how infiltrated AQ was by foreign intelligence agencies, those same sources show that there was indeed an AQ organization that was indeed involved in 9/11 and that did indeed need to be destroyed.

That could have happened within weeks of the invasion, and certainly could have been completed at Tora Bora -- another mystery of the Bush era. It seems obvious that the Bush administration did everything in its power to prolong our involvement there -- but that's a question that should be directed at Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and that entire criminal gang.

Why is the Obama administration there? Because the Bush administration had us already mired when the Obama administration took office. That seems to me to be pretty obvious.

It also seems obvious that it's a war that we can extract ourselves from. How we extract ourselves is a question that people will disagree about.

It seems to me that the Obama administration is following the model of Iraq -- surge, Afghanistanize the war, and leave as quickly as possible.

It's not what I would do, but it's hardly a desire or prescription for endless American involvement.

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Raster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-22-09 07:22 AM
Response to Reply #7
8. I beg to differ, my friend. I'm not so sure the Obama administration wants to extract us
Edited on Wed Jul-22-09 07:27 AM by Raster
from Afghanistan as quickly as possible. And remember, we are not really leaving Iraq, we are leaving the cities perhaps, but certainly we are NOT leaving the massive, hardened, permanent military bases built to protect the oil reserves and serve as a new Saudi Arabia.

on edit: and please notice I said the Obama Administration. While I think that President Obama himself probably would like to bring every American home and rid ourselves of this toxic Middle East mess, certain factions in his administration--primarily the permanent DOD infrastructure--thinks otherwise. Each President dances a very subtle, choreographed tune with the defense and intelligence branches of the US government. No President wants a Carter-style DOD mutiny on his hands, or a Clinton-style intelligence mutiny on his hands.
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HamdenRice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-22-09 07:59 AM
Response to Reply #8
15. I agree completely.
As with everything else, Obama is in the midst of political struggle. The forces arrayed against him are the most powerful on earth.

If things don't happen immediately, I'm not going to posit that Obama and the Democrats want an endless war just as much as the Republicans -- just that various interests will require a struggle to get us out. Doing so precipitously will not only destabilize the region, but could lead to some very ugly consequences here.

"Back. And to the Left. Back. And to the Left."
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Raster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-22-09 09:11 AM
Response to Reply #15
20. "The forces arrayed against him are the most powerful on earth."
DING! You get the DU "no-truer-words-spoken-today" award. The way that the cheney*/bush* junta interjected us into the Middle East morras virtually guaranteed that there would be no easy way to extricate ourselves. That was the plan.
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Raster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-22-09 07:23 AM
Response to Reply #7
9. And when it comes to 9/11, I think AQ was more of a collaborator than the
actual instigator. Just my ten cents.
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NNN0LHI Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-22-09 07:25 AM
Response to Original message
10.  Everyone doesn't know It
Hell we have posters right here cheerleading this insanity on.

I can't believe how stupid some people are.

Don
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Raster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-22-09 07:45 AM
Response to Original message
11. Kick for the morning.
:kick:
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subsuelo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-22-09 07:48 AM
Response to Original message
12. We never had any right to wage war on Afghanistan in the first place
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SammyWinstonJack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-22-09 08:06 AM
Response to Reply #12
17. +1
:thumbsup:
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pleah Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-22-09 07:51 AM
Response to Original message
13. K&R
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tabbycat31 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-22-09 07:53 AM
Response to Original message
14. K&R
now I just wish someone would knock some sense into President Obama about this war.
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OwnedByFerrets Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-22-09 08:05 AM
Response to Original message
16. K and R
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madrchsod Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-22-09 08:18 AM
Response to Original message
18.  the war is about oil and gas pipelines
the taliban offered up bin boy,they hated the al-qaida, and the al-qaida has left afghanistan and has moved to Yemen.

cheney and his secret meetings were about gas and oil pipelines through afghanistan. the taliban rejected cheney`s offers. that`s when the war on the taliban started.



it`s obama`s war

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Raster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-22-09 09:08 AM
Response to Reply #18
19. "...a carpet of gold or a carpet of bombs..." EVERYTHING in the Middle East is about oil.
Edited on Wed Jul-22-09 09:08 AM by Raster
Everything. And still eight-plus years later, we still don't know who even attended those cheney* secret energy meetings. If we don't know who attended, we can't subpeona, eh? And we certainly don't know what took place. One thing we do know though, is that long before 9/11 ever happened, cheney* and the energy meeting attendees had already begun to divvy up Iraq's oil fields. Long before 9/11.
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subsuelo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-22-09 11:42 AM
Response to Reply #18
21. Afghanistan is also about drug money
At least, according to Michael Ruppert .. check his book Crossing the Rubicon and his site From the Wilderness: http://www.fromthewilderness.com/index.html

Check this reference from CounterPunch:

Afghanistan's opium production has skyrocketed. Although the Taliban had virtually stamped out poppy production, the country now accounts for two-third of the world's heroin. As hard as it may be to believe, there is compelling evidence that the US (via the CIA) may be directly involved in narco-trafficing.

A report in Portland Independent Media gives us some idea of how this works in their summary of the writings of investigative journalist Mike Ruppert:

"Before 1980, Afghanistan produced 0% of the world's opium. But then the CIA moved in, and by 1986 they were producing 40% of the world's heroin supply. By 1999, they were churning out 3,200 TONS of heroin a year nearly 80% of the total market supply. But then something unexpected happened. The Taliban rose to power, and by 2000 they had destroyed nearly all of the opium fields. Production dropped from 3,000+ tons to only 185 tons, a 94% reduction! This enormous drop in revenue subsequently hurt not only the CIA's Black Budget projects, but also the free-flow of laundered money in and out of the Controller's banks"


And, this from Mike Ruppert's "From the Wilderness" (FTW):

"Until February, Afghanistan had been the world's largest producer of opium/heroin, claiming close to 70% of the world's total production. That opium, consumed largely in Western Europe and smuggled through the Balkans, was a direct source of cash deposits in Western financial institutions and markets.

The Taliban's actions this year (destroying the opium crop) severed the ruling military junta in Pakistan from its primary source of foreign revenues and made bin Laden and the Taliban completely expendable in the eyes of the Pakistani government. It also cut off billions of dollars in revenues that had been previously laundered through western banks and Russian financial institutions connected to them.

... Prior to the WTC attacks, credible sources, including the U.S. government, the IMF, Le Monde and the U.S. Senate placed the amount of drug cash flowing into Wall Street and U.S. banks at around $250-$300 billion a year.

In that context, the real history of Osama bin Laden, as America's useful terrorist-du-jour reveals a long and continuous history, interwoven with the drug trade and the Bush family, of supporting conflicts that have benefited U.S. military and economic interests."

"THE TALIBANS DESTRUCTION OF THAT (OPIUM) CROP WAS APPARENTLY THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT ACT OF ECONOMIC WARFARE AGAINST US ECONOMIC INTERESTS THAT THE TALIBAN HAD EVER COMMITTED".


It invited the war that would come shortly after.

The facts related to CIA involvement are fairly well documented at this point. (Although, I haven't seen these particular allegations before.) It seems unlikely that this level of "economic activity" would continue to flourish without US participation. Also, the parasitic relationship of the major banking institutions to the drug trade is hardly anecdotal.

We shouldn't be surprised that America's "new friend" Pakistan is deeply involved as well. Before the Taliban's rise to power, a "whopping" 60% of Pakistan's GDP is estimated to have come from the illicit trafficking of drugs; making it a factor that penetrated every area of Pakistan society. (The ISI, the equivalent of the CIA, was a particularly large beneficiary of drug receipts)

What is striking about these charges of US involvement in narco trafficking is that suggests a compelling interest on the part of the banking establishment to prosecute the war in Afghanistan. Up to this point, many critics had alleged that the Energy giants were driving the bus. Now, it appears that there was a confluence of interests (Big Energy, Banks, Wall Street and arms dealers) who elected to steer the country towards war.


This strikes me as a rather compelling case
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truth2power Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-22-09 11:19 PM
Response to Reply #18
27. See the dotted lines running thru Afghanistan?..


PROPOSED oil & gas pipelines.

The ONLY reason we're there. IMHO. (Maybe drugs, too, as pointed out by another poster.)

9/11 had nothing to do with it, but it sure was convenient, keeping Americans scared to death and hating Muslims for the past 8 years.
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johnaries Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-22-09 12:11 PM
Response to Original message
22. Chris Hedges - EPIC FAIL.
It's very simple, Chris. We were viciously attacked by al Qaeda who killed 3000+ innocent Americans. The Taliban were harboring and aiding al Qaeda in Afghanistan. We asked the Taliban to give them up. The Taliban refused and continued to aid al Qaeda.

Now, the Taliban is trying to take over again. If they succeed, they will aid more terrorist groups who will attack us again. Plus, Bush made a mess in Afghanistan that we need to clean up. Pottery Barn rules.

But, mainly, it's to keep us from being attacked again.

It's just that simple. Why can't some people understand? :shrug:
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Raster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-22-09 06:47 PM
Response to Reply #22
23. What a line of horseshit. And no it's not simple.
There's bigger terrorist fish to fry then the Taliban. Much bigger fish. Afghanistan was ALWAYS about the oil and the pipeline.

Your post: EPIC FAIL!
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-22-09 06:49 PM
Response to Reply #22
24. An argument for war that begins "It's very simple" is not one to be considered.
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PurityOfEssence Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-22-09 10:52 PM
Response to Reply #22
26. How appropriate to use a tiresome trendy phrase to dismiss wisdom and try to please the crowd
The only thing missing from this post is the idiotic word "awesome".

There is no way that shoveling lives, munitions and money into Afghanistan will keep anyone from attacking us. They can plan that in a penthouse in Jakarta, and may well be doing so as we speak. All this does is fuel anti-American sentiments.

Al Queda is a chimera; it's all over the muslim world in loosely-affiliated cells, and they just LOVE seeing us fighting a muscle-bound mechanized war against guerrillas. It's a ridiculous waste, and based on the silliest of showmanship.

If you REALLY want to understand our President's odd motives here, it's this: the need to dispel the myth of liberal weakness when he was wrongly labeled as a peacenik. He played fast-and-loose with his EXTREMELY tepid and calculated "opposition" to the IWR and the war itself, and when caught about this in the primaries, had to show how damned manly he was. THAT'S why we're still entertaining this silliness, along with the pipeline and habitual symbolic warmongering.

This saps NONE of the islamists strengths, and merely sticks our jaw out where it can be popped. Meanwhile, local sentiment grows against us and our way of life at a time when we could be seeing women and moderates rising against these reactionary primitives as they've been doing lately in Iran. (Obviously, Iran is a very different sect of Islam and a vastly different culture, but the similarity to the repression of women and non-fundamentalists shows striking similarities.)

"Epic Fail" doesn't sound "cool" anyway; it sounds idiotic. Ya might as well say that anyone disagreeing with Obama is "pwned", although it might be fun to listen to some hectoring trendoid try to pronounce that particular bit of snottiness.

If the ad hominem elements of this bother anyone, just examine the tenor of peer-pressure ridicule offered by the lightweight dismissal of the post to which this is a response. Hedges REALLY lays it out in great detail and quite specifically goes into detail of the various addle-headed quasi-justifications for this fiasco-in-the-making, pointing out stark trends of obvious history that's rooted in human nature, and it's met with a facile dismissal using a childish justification that bears no more credence than the Bushies idiocy of "fighting them there instead of fighting them here". Pathetic.
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Orsino Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-24-09 09:50 AM
Response to Reply #22
31. Eight years, and we're back to where we started?
I hope ponies are included in the new order of battle.
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Echo In Light Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-24-09 10:19 AM
Response to Reply #22
32. The U.S. is there for business interests only.
The U.S. further hurts those already victimized by Taliban. And it wasn't al Qaeda who pulled off 9/11.
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Martin Eden Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-22-09 08:10 PM
Response to Original message
25. Regardless of why we went in and how badly Bush bungled ...
... we at least need to have an honest answer to the question of what will happen if we abruptly pull out now.
I do not profess to know exactly what will happen, but I do have some more questions:

Would the civil war grow worse, with more horrific consequences for the Afghan people?

Would the Taliban likely regain control of the country, and if they do will the danger of international terrorism increase?

If the victorious Taliban proclaim triumph over the "Great Satan" and the fortunes of radical Islam rise, what effect will this have on US military/foreign policy and the political fortunes of the Republican Party that will crow about how this proves the Dems can't be trusted with national security?


On the other hand ...

Realistically, can the United States with its NATO allies forge a stable and (relatively) peaceful Afghanistan with an independent government?

Are these efforts ultimately futile and a Taliban victory inevitable, rendering the further commitment of our blood and treasure a tragic waste?
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paparush Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-23-09 08:09 AM
Response to Original message
28. Afghanistan - The Place Where Empires Go To Die /nt
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Raster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-23-09 08:16 PM
Response to Reply #28
29. No shit!
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mc jackson Donating Member (3 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-24-09 09:41 AM
Response to Original message
30. What about Pakistan and Nukes?
I'm surprised no one has mentioned that the Taliban was w/n 60 mls of Pakistan's Capitol. While I agree with most of the arguments against the war in Afghanistan, I have to agree with the assessment that we need to ask W. & Cheney. Moreover, we'll have to see where we are in a year before judging Obama.
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