FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

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).

February 11, 2016
Bruce Lesnick
Flint: A Tale of Two Cities
Ajamu Baraka
Beyonce and the Politics of Cultural Dominance
Shamus Cooke
Can the Establishment Fix Its Bernie Sanders Problem?
John Hazard
The Pope in Mexico: More Harm Than Good?
Joyce Nelson
Trudeau & the Saudi Arms Deal
Zarefah Baroud
The Ever-Dangerous Mantra “Drill, Baby Drill”
Anthony DiMaggio
Illinois’ Manufactured Budget Crisis
Colin Todhunter
Indian Food and Agriculture Under Attack
Binoy Kampmark
Warring Against Sanders: Totalitarian Thinking, Feminism and the Clintons
Robert Koehler
Presidential Politics and the American Soul
Thomas Knapp
Election 2016: The Banality of Evil on Steroids
Cesar Chelala
In Microcephaly in Children Caused by the Zika Virus or by Pesticides?
February 10, 2016
Eoin Higgins
Clinton and the Democratic Establishment: the Ties That Bind
Fred Nagel
The Role of Legitimacy in Social Change
Jeffrey St. Clair
Why Bernie Still Won’t Win
Mike Whitney
Putin’s Aleppo Gamble Pays Off
Chris Martenson
The Return of Crisis: Everywhere Banks are in Deep Trouble
Ramzy Baroud
Next Onslaught in Gaza: Why the Status Quo Is a Precursor for War
Sheldon Richman
End, Don’t Extend, Draft Registration
Benjamin Willis
Obama in Havana
Jack Smith
Obama Intensifies Wars and Threats of War
Rob Hager
How Hillary Clinton Co-opted the Term “Progressive”
Mark Boothroyd
Syria: Peace Talks Collapse, Aleppo Encircled, Disaster Looms
Lawrence Ware
If You Hate Cam Newton, It’s Probably Because He’s Black
Jesse Jackson
Starving Government Creates Disasters Like Flint
Bill Laurance
A Last Chance for the World’s Forests?
Gary Corseri
ABC’s of the US Empire
Frances Madeson
The Pain of the Earth: an Interview With Duane “Chili” Yazzie
Binoy Kampmark
The New Hampshire Distortion: The Primaries Begin
Andrew Raposa
Portugal: Europe’s Weak Link?
Wahid Azal
Dugin’s Occult Fascism and the Hijacking of Left Anti-Imperialism and Muslim Anti-Salafism
February 09, 2016
Andrew Levine
Hillary Says the Darndest Things
Paul Street
Kill King Capital
Ben Burgis
Lesser Evil Voting and Hillary Clinton’s War on the Poor
Paul Craig Roberts
Are the Payroll Jobs Reports Merely Propaganda Statements?
Fran Quigley
How Corporations Killed Medicine
Ted Rall
How Bernie Can Pay for His Agenda: Slash the Military
Neve Gordon
Israeli Labor Party Adopts the Apartheid Mantra
Kristin Kolb
The “Great” Bear Rainforest Agreement? A Love Affair, Deferred
Joseph Natoli
Politics and Techno-Consciousness
Hrishikesh Joshi
Selective Attention to Diversity: the Case of Cruz and Rubio
Stavros Mavroudeas
Why Syriza is Sinking in Greece
David Macaray
Attention Peyton Manning: Leave Football and Concentrate on Pizza
Arvin Paranjpe
Opening Your Heart
Kathleen Wallace
Boys, Hell, and the Politics of Vagina Voting
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail