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CATCH 222 December 8, 2011

Posted by wmmbb in carbon emissions, CENTRAL ASIA, US Politics.

Regardless of the number of people killed, the prosecution of war is very expensive. Keeping the supply lines open and flowing is critical to bases on the ground requires constant air drops.

The moral cost can always be spun left in the vapour trails in the sky. Nathan Hodge goes into the practical problems for the Wall Street Journal:

Over Eastern Afghanistan parachuting a barrel of fuel to a remote Afghan base takes sharp flying skills, steady nerves and flawless timing.

It also costs a lot of money—up to $400 a gallon, by military estimates.

But the Pentagon is stuck with the expense for the foreseeable future, especially given the recent deterioration in U.S.-Pakistani relations.

“We’re going to burn a lot of gas to drop a lot of gas,” said Capt. Zack Albaugh, a California Air National Guard pilot deployed with the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron. He spoke just before a recent mission to supply a remote base near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, scene of cross-border rocket attacks that have heightened regional tensions this fall.

Such security issues were addressed Monday at an international meeting over Afghanistan in Bonn, Germany, where President Hamid Karzai appealed for continuing international funding well after most coalition forces withdraw in 2014.

But for now, nearly 100,000 U.S. troops are on the ground in Afghanistan, often stationed in difficult-to-reach outposts that depend on pallets of food, water, ammunition and fuel that are dropped by parachute out of cargo planes.

Capt. Albaugh’s recent supply flight over the country’s Paktika province underscored a simple fact of the U.S. military presence: War is inherently costly, and that is keenly felt when the military’s budget is under growing strain and vital supply lines come under pressure.

This example of human behavior makes problem gamblers addicted to poker machines look good by comparison. At some point the money tap will have to be turned off and the situation in Afghanistan will not have changed for the better but for the worst. The money wasted so extravagantly could have been productively spent at home with a net benefit for human welfare.

Meanwhile, many people are reported to have died following two suicide attacks on shrines where people were gathered for the Shiite holy day of Asura. AFP reports (via The New Zealand Herald) that 58 people were killed. The major blast was in Kabul and another attack occurred in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif. Lashkar-i-Jhangvi has claimed responsibility. Because of suspected links to the ISI, the attack is likely to increase the animosity between the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan. As Ernesto Londono writes in The Washington Post:

If the group is extending operations into Afghanistan, it could add a highly destabilizing sectarian dimension to the costly and protracted Afghan war.

Although not included in the reports I have seen, this attack is likely to attract attention in Tehran.

The invasion and occupation of both Iraq and Afghanistan, aside from other and more important considerations, have been blunders. These admissions will be made in due course in the context of strategic errors, but doubtless the related moral and legal issues will be ignored. This is the way the world works.

Gareth Porter reports on last weeks attack by the US/NATO on Pakistan border posts and the killing of 24 Pakistan soldiers. He discusses his article with Scott Horton.

The stream of news incidents is much like the endless charges of the climate denialists enabling unresolved issues to be buried as the flow of news moves on without resolution or comprehension.



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