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
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone
Mike Whitney
Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Alan Nasser
The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Cycle of Crises
Andrew Levine
Viva Trump?
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Behind the Congressional Disagreements Over the Iran Nuclear Deal
Lawrence Ware – Marcus T. McCullough
I Won’t Say Amen: Three Black Christian Clichés That Must Go
Evan Jones
Zionism in Britain: a Neglected Chronicle
John Wight
Learning About the Migration Crisis From Ancient Rome
Andre Vltchek
Lebanon – What if it Fell?
Charles Pierson
How the US and the WTO Crushed India’s Subsidies for Solar Energy
Robert Fantina
Hillary Clinton, Palestine and the Long View
Ben Burgis
Gore Vidal Was Right: What Best of Enemies Leaves Out
Suzanne Gordon
How Vets May Suffer From McCain’s Latest Captivity
Robert Sandels - Nelson P. Valdés
The Cuban Adjustment Act: the Other Immigration Mess
Uri Avnery
The Molten Three: Israel’s Aborted Strike on Iran
John Stanton
Israel’s JINSA Earns Return on Investment: 190 Americans Admirals and Generals Oppose Iran Deal
Bill Yousman
The Fire This Time: Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me”
Michael Welton
The Conversable World: Finding a Compass in Post-9/11 Times
Brian Cloughley
Don’t be Black in America
Kent Paterson
In Search of the Great New Mexico Chile Pepper in a Post-NAFTA Era
Binoy Kampmark
Live Death on Air: The Killings at WDBJ
Gui Rochat
The Guise of American Democracy
Emma Scully
Vultures Over Puerto Rico: the Financial Implications of Dependency
Chuck Churchill
Is “White Skin Privilege” the Key to Understanding Racism?
Kathleen Wallace
The Id(iots) Emerge
Andrew Stewart
Zionist Hip-Hop: a Critical Look at Matisyahu
Gregg Shotwell
The Fate of the UAW: Study, Aim, Fire
Halyna Mokrushyna
Decentralization Reform in Ukraine
Scott Parkin
Katrina Plus Ten: Climate Justice in Action
Norman Pollack
World Capitalism, a Basket Case: A Layman’s View
Sarah Lazare
Listening to Iraq
John Laforge
NSP/Xcel Energy Falsified Welding Test Documents on Rad Waste Casks
Wendell G Bradley
Drilling for Wattenberg Oil is Not Profitable
Joy First
Wisconsin Walk for Peace and Justice: Nine Arrested at Volk Field
Mel Gurtov
China’s Insecurity
Mateo Pimentel
An Operator’s Guide to Trump’s Racism
Yves Engler
Harper Conservatives and Abuse of Power
Michael Dickinson
Police Guns of Brixton: Another Unarmed Black Shot by London Cops
Ron Jacobs
Daydream Sunset: a Playlist
Charles R. Larson
The Beginning of the Poppy Wars: Amitav Ghosh’s “Flood of Fire”
David Yearsley
A Rising Star Over a Dark Forest
August 27, 2015
Sam Husseini
Foreign Policy, Sanders-Style: Backing Saudi Intervention
Brad Evans – Henry A. Giroux
Self-Plagiarism and the Politics of Character Assassination: the Case of Zygmunt Bauman