AFGHANISTAN TROOP DEPLOYMENT February 19, 2009Posted by wmmbb in US Politics.
What is to be made of the Obama decision to increase the number of American troops in Afghanistan?
The soldiers, according to the BBC, will consist of 8,000 marines, 4,000 army and 5,000 support staff. They will be deployed in the Pushtun south and east, arriving just before the scheduled Afghan national elections. Andy Gallagher’s BBC report concludes:
President Obama says he wants to move forward “in concert with our friends and allies” – a clear indication that he could well call on Nato and its member countries to commit more of their resources to Afghanistan.
That could be another battle that the Obama administration will have to fight, but it is clear that the US, under its new commander-in-chief, will be in Afghanistan for many years to come.
Juan Cole says that the numbers of soldiers are less important than their effective deployment. For example, he suggests that eradicating opium poppy agriculture may be counter-productive. He writes:
There is reason to think that forcible poppy eradication has produced the growing insurgency. Poppies are used to make heroin, and exports of the drug account for over a third of Afghanistan’s gross domestic product. But many Afghan farmers are destitute after 30 years of war, and this crop is their one hope of escaping poverty. They grow irate when someone comes in with helicopters and torches to destroy the crop.
Perhaps it is redundant to observe, but true, that the careless murder of civilians by drones will do nothing to win hearts and minds, not to say somewhat undermines the moral purpose of the application of violence.
William Pfaff, via Truthdig, observes that American influences has not stopped the Pakistan Government making a deal with people in tribal areas, across the border from Afghanistan. They have agreed to the strict application of Sharia Law. Clearly this sets a precedent that might be applied to Afghanistan – especially if it works.
William Pfaff wonders about the mission in Afghanistan. I suspect the confusion arises from apparent consistency of the idea of waging violence against terrorism within the overarching doctrine of unilateralism. Such a concept runs into the ambiguities on the ground where Muslim fundamentalists are also ethnic nationalists. I suppose when historical sense and logic are inconsistent the outcomes are likely to be divergent. He observes the possibilities:
Exactly what do we think we are doing in Afghanistan and Pakistan? Are we there to liberalize their forms of religious observance, or conduct a war over theology, or take permanent control of Afghanistan (or Pakistan) and establish permanent NATO bases there (as some Afghans are convinced); or are we searching for Osama bin Laden and his principal collaborators, in order to bring them to justice for the 2001 attacks carried out against the New York World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon?
It seems that we are doing all of these things at the same time. But why?
The more interesting, and unresolved, question is to what extent is Obama a captive of his advisers. We are told that this decision has been made prior to a full review of the Afghan situation, which suggests that in the long run it may prove a stop gap, or bandaid, measure. It could be that Obama is boosting troops in Afghanistan to ensure that they are withdrawn from Iraq, despite the opposition of some of the generals.
When and if, the economic crisis starts to have substantial political ramifications, it is, I expect more likely than not, the pressure will increase to review the necessity and utility of American defence spending in general, and of the worldwide bases in particular. The application of rational economics might lead to increased military security and effectiveness.
The way that Chris Floyd tells the story, Afghanistan sounds like Colombia. The terror war morphs into the drug war, with the methods of the terror war at Obama’s direction.
According to Edward P Joseph in The Washington Post,”Not even the Afghans know how to fix it”. Still, its seems by comparison the Soviets gained marks for providing employment in large projects which the Americans have not created. Perhaps l the military might be ok for blowing stuff up, but when it comes to building things with economic value they are hopeless.
So why are the imperialists supporting the puppet government in Kabul? Framed in that manner, the question answers itself. Jonathan S Landay for McClatchy suggests that the Americans are repeating the same mistakes as the Russians, or refusing to let the Afghans run their own government, an arrangement that usually works best.
Afghanistan is a land-locked country and the supply lines that the Americans and their underlings rely on are not secure. Kyrgyzstan has just decided to close the Manas air base to the imperial effort. Nothing much needs to known about military policy and imperialism to realize that when the supply lines are not secure, the project is beginning to look decidedly like it might tank.