Obama in Afghanistan

by DAVE LINDORFF

How pathetic a scene was this: The president of the United States, commander- in-chief of the mightiest war machine the world has ever known, sneaking into one of the poorest countries in the world and meeting with the corrupt leader of that country, where he has committed 100,000 troops to battle, to beg with that corrupt leader to “clean up” his corrupt and profoundly inept government.

Already, a thousand American soldiers as well as many civilian aid workers, not to mention tens of thousands of innocent Afghans, have died in an eight-year war that the US launched in 2001, originally with the intent solely of ousting the existing Taliban government and destroying the bases of mostly Arab fighters who had been assisting the Taliban in their fight against Russian-allied warlords.

Over the years, with the Al Qaeda fighters destroyed or pushed out of Afghanistan, the war has grown and morphed into a grinding and so far losing battle against indigenous Taliban fighters and Afghan nationalists and tribalists who are trying trying to drive out the US. But after eight years of fighting, the goal of the war, on the American side, has only become less and less clear.

That goal now appears to be: crushing the Taliban and creating a modern, functioning nation state with a government that at least has the grudging respect of the populace.

But none of that is really likely to happen.

The US military recently staged a fake, movie-set battle in a rural area of southeastern Afghanistan, claiming it was assaulting a large town of 80,000, allegedly infested with Taliban fighters–an alleged center of the insurgency. With the support of an either duped or incredibly corrupt US press corps, the military went into the area, which was actually a group of scattered farming villages with a central market, claiming it would operate under new rules of engagement designed to protect civilians, and then, after clearing out the Taliban, set up a model government administration.

Things went badly from the start, when the Marines fired a rocket salvo into a home and killed 12 innocent civilians, including children. In the end some 30 civilians were killed, very few actual Taliban fighters were killed or captured, as they fled the scene in the weeks leading up to the highly advertised offensive, and to cap it off, the Afghan soldiers who hung behind as the Marines went into the area, when they did finally enter the battle zone themselves, proceeded to strip the market area, stealing anything of value.

A new “mayor” brought in from outside to administer the “liberated” Marjah region, turned out to be a killer and a thug. So far, a month after the end of the fighting in Marjah, there is no clean new administration there, and there probably never will be. The focus of the US military is now on the one-million population city of Kandahar.

Good luck to the civilians living there.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of the war in Afghanistan, scraped together a cheering section of 2500 US marines and soldiers to give some “Boo-yahs!” to the visiting commander-in-chief, but it’s hard to believe that the rest of the over 70,000 US troops in the country are cheering. (And forget the NATO “allies,” most of whom are preparing to pack it up and go home.)

The government US forces are propping up is so weak and corrupt that it doesn’t really “rule” anything but the capital city of Kabul, and it, and its police and army enforcers, are largely viewed by the majority of Afghans as little more than an official mafia. It is well known that President Hamid Karzai stole the last election and thumbed his nose at world opinion (his opponent simply quit the race in disgust during the ballot counting).

And it was this usurper Karzai whom the visiting Obama was left to plead with to clean up the mess of a government he runs. Clean up how? Karzai’s own brother is a leading warlord and opium baron. Even the country’s opium crap is being left untouched by US forces, for fear of alienating the country’s farmers, so we’re actually in there fighting to defend the world’s leading producer of opium for the heroin trade! How on earth do you “clean up” a government in a country like that?

Incredibly, as stupid and pointless and immoral as was the war in Iraq, Obama has found himself mired in an even more stupid, pointless and immoral war in Afghanistan. And because he has chosen, in his first year in office, to escalate that war instead of wind it down and end it, and has doubled the rate of US casualties in that war, President Obama now cannot do the right thing and end it even if he wants to, because then, how to explain all those pointless deaths? Instead, he is forced to clap soldiers, perhaps some of them already doomed, on the back in the cafeteria at Bagram Air Base, and tell them, in an echo or George Bush’s famous sneak visit to Iraq, “I’m proud of you. You guys are doing great work, each and every day.”

What a pathetic joke. The only thing missing was the plastic turkey.

But then again, at least there was a turkey there.

DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. His latest book is “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006 and now available in paperback). He can be reached at dlindorff@mindspring.com

WORDS THAT STICK

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
July 29, 2015
Mike Whitney
The Politics of Betrayal: Obama Backstabs Kurds to Appease Turkey
Joshua Frank
The Wheels Fell Off the Bernie Sanders Bandwagon
Conn Hallinan
Ukraine: Close to the Edge
Stephen Lendman
What Happened to Ralkina Jones? Another Jail Cell Death
Rob Wallace
Neoliberal Ebola: the Agroeconomic Origins of the Ebola Outbreak
Dmitry Rodionov
The ‘Ichkerization’ Crime Wave in Ukraine
Joyce Nelson
Scott Walker & Stephen Harper: a New Bromance
Bill Blunden
The Red Herring of Digital Backdoors and Key Escrow Encryption
Thomas Mountain
The Sheepdog Politics of Barack Obama
Farzana Versey
A President and a Yogi: Abdul Kalam’s Symbolism
Norman Pollack
America’s Decline: Internal Structural-Cultural Subversion
Foday Darboe
How Obama Failed Africa
Cesar Chelala
Russia’s Insidious Epidemic
Tom H. Hastings
Defending Democracy
David Macaray
Why Union Contracts are Good for the Country
Virginia Arthur
The High and Dry Sierras
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, the Season Finale, Mekonception in Redhook
July 28, 2015
Mark Schuller
Humanitarian Occupation of Haiti: 100 Years and Counting
Lawrence Ware
Why the “Black Church” Doesn’t Exist–and Never Has
Peter Makhlouf
Israel and Gaza: the BDS Movement One Year After “Protective Edge”
Carl Finamore
Landlords Behaving Badly: San Francisco Too Valuable for Poor People*
Michael P. Bradley
Educating About Islam: Problems of Selectivity and Imbalance
Binoy Kampmark
Ransacking Malaysia: the Najib Corruption Dossier
Michael Avender - Medea Benjamin
El Salvador’s Draconian Abortion Laws: a Miscarriage of Justice
Jesse Jackson
Sandra Bland’s Only Crime Was Driving While Black
Cesar Chelala
Effect of Greece’s Economic Crisis on Public Health
Mel Gurtov
Netanyahu: An Enemy of Peace
Joseph G. Ramsey
The Limits of Optimism: E.L. Doctorow and the American Left
George Wuerthner
Bark Beetles and Forest Fires: Another Myth Goes Up in Smoke
Paul Craig Roberts - Dave Kranzler
Supply and Demand in the Gold and Silver Futures Markets
Eric Draitser
China’s NGO Law: Countering Western Soft Power and Subversion
Harvey Wasserman
Will Ohio Gov. Kasich’s Anti-Green Resume Kill His Presidential Hopes?
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode 4, a Bowery Ballroom Blitz
July 27, 2015
Susan Babbitt
Thawing Relations: Cuba’s Deeper (More Challenging) Significance
Howard Lisnoff
Bernie Sanders: Savior or Seducer of the Anti-War Left?
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma’s Profiteers: You Want Us to Pay What for These Meds?
Joshua Sperber
What is a President? The CEO of Capitalism
John Halle
On Berniebots and Hillary Hacks, Dean Screams, Swiftboating and Smears
Stephen Lendman
Cleveland Police Attack Black Activists
Zoe Konstantopoulou
The Politics of Coercion in Greece
Patrick Cockburn
Only Iraq’s Clerics Can Defeat ISIS
Ralph Nader
Sending a ‘Citizens Summons’ to Members of Congress
Clancy Sigal
Scratch That Itch: Hillary and The Donald
Colin Todhunter
Working Class War Fodder
Gareth Porter
Obama’s Version of Iran Nuke Deal: a Second False Narrative