Time to Face Facts in Afghanistan

BlackAsCoal

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TIme to Face Facts in Afghanistan
by Eric Margolis

For those who savor historical irony, the Soviet Empire collapsed in the years 1989–1991 because of an implosion of its economy brought on by a ruinous arms race with the United States and the heavy costs of occupying Afghanistan.

Seventeen years later came the turn of the world’s other great imperial power, the United States. Lethally bloated by runaway debt, and burdened by 50% of the world’s military spending, the house of cards known as the US economy finally collapsed.

The doomsday news from New York and Washington has obscured most other world affairs. This is unfortunate because for the first time there is a flicker – and I mean only a flicker – of light at the end of the Afghanistan tunnel. It may only be an oncoming truck bomb.

The US-installed Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, revealed last week he had asked Saudi Arabia to broker peace talks with the alliance of tribal and political groups resisting Western occupation collectively known as Taliban. Saudi Arabia had been one of the few nations to recognize the Taliban government and retains considerable influence in Afghanistan and remains a loyal friend of Pakistan.

Taliban leader Mullah Omar quickly rejected Karzai’s offer, and claimed the US was heading toward the same kind of catastrophic defeat in Afghanistan that the Soviet Union had met. The ongoing financial panic in North America lent substance to his words.

The US economy is in grave peril and its big three automakers may soon face bankruptcy. In a crazy sidebar, as Wall Street and the US banking system faced meltdown, the insouciant Pentagon just announced it would spend $300 million with American "contractors" to spread pro-US propaganda in Iraq. This remarkable idiocy notwithstanding, Washington could soon run out of money necessary to keep paying for operations in Iraq, and bribing Pakistan with $250–300 million a month to wage war against its own rebellious Pashtun tribes people along the Afghanistan border.

The able and forthright US commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David McKiernan, urgently called for at least 10,000 more troops. US and NATO forces in Afghanistan are increasingly on the defensive, hard pressed to defend vulnerable supply lines in spite of massive fire power and total control of the air.

Attacks on US and NATO convoys are even beginning at the port of Karachi. The prospect of the US spreading a war it can’t win in Afghanistan into Pakistan is military and political madness.

Startlingly, Gen. McKiernan appeared to break with Bush administration policy by proposing political talks with Taliban and admitting the war had to be ended by diplomacy. The military men know this war cannot be won on the battlefield. McKiernan’s predecessor told Congress that 400,000 US troops would be needed to pacify Afghanistan. There are currently 80,000 western troops in Afghanistan, many of them unwilling to enter combat.

By sharp contrast, I recently asked Karl Rove, President Bush’s former senior advisor, how the US could ever hope to win the war in Afghanistan. His eyes dancing with imperial hubris, Rove brightly replied, "More Predators (missile armed drones) and helicopters! Then we’ll go into Pakistan."

Which reminded me of poet Hilaire Beloc’s wonderful line about 19th-century British imperialism that I use in my new book, American Raj: "Whatever happens/we have got/the Maxim gun [early machine gun] and they have not."

Though Karzai’s olive branch was rejected, the fact he made it public is very important. By doing so, both he and Gen. McKiernan broke the simple-minded Western taboo against negotiations with Taliban and its allies.

Let us remember that Taliban is not a "terrorist movement," as claimed by western war propaganda, but was founded as an Islamic religious movement dedicated to fighting Communism and the drug trade.

Taliban received US funding until May, 2001. In fact, CIA keep close contacts with Taliban, many of whose members were US-backed mujahidin from the anti-Soviet war of the 1980’s, for possible future use against the Communist regimes of Central Asia and against China. The 9/11 attacks made CIA immediately cut its links to Taliban and burn the associated files.

In recent years, Western war propaganda has so demonized Taliban that few politicians have the courage to propose the obvious and inevitable: a negotiated settlement to this pointless seven-year war. A noteworthy exception came last April when NATO’s secretary general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who admitted the war could only be ended by negotiations, not military means.

The Karzai government cannot extend its authority beyond Kabul because that would mean overthrowing the very same Uzbek and Tajik drug-dealing warlords and Communists chiefs that are its base of power. There is no real Afghan national army, just a bunch of unenthusiastic mercenaries who pretend to fight.

The current war in Afghanistan is not really about al-Qaida and "terrorism," but about opening a secure corridor through Pashtun tribal territory to export the oil and gas riches of the Caspian Basin of Central Asia to the West. The US and NATO forces in Afghanistan are essentially pipeline protection troops fighting off the hostile natives.

Both Barack Obama and John McCain are wrong about Afghanistan. It is not a "good" fight against "terrorism," but a classic, 19th-century colonial war to advance western geopolitical power into resource-rich Central Asia. The Pashtun Afghans who live there are ready to fight for another 100 years. The western powers certainly are not.

As that great American founding father Benjamin Franklin said, "there is no good war, and no bad peace." Time for the West to face reality in Afghanistan.

+++

Sorry, board rules do not allow me to post the link to the article until after 15 posts .. but it can be googled by its title.
 

editec

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Sadly I think we've got to learn our Afghanistan lesson just as the Russians did, and just as the Brits did before that.

When Alexander the Great is POTUS THEN AND ONLY THEN, will I think us suited to occupy that desolate backwater place.

If the Persians have been wise enough to eschew attempting to dominate that place, why aren't we?
 

Sunni Man

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The current war in Afghanistan is not really about al-Qaida and "terrorism," but about opening a secure corridor through Pashtun tribal territory to export the oil and gas riches of the Caspian Basin of Central Asia to the West. The US and NATO forces in Afghanistan are essentially pipeline protection troops fighting off the hostile natives.
Great post!!

And this paragraph sums up our involvment in Afghanistain.
 

Truthmatters

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good post Bac.

good to see you here.

This is just one huge hole of a mess that will never gain the US anything in the end.
 
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BlackAsCoal

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Great post!!

And this paragraph sums up our involvment in Afghanistain.
It absolutely does .. but neither Obama or McCain will tell that truth to the American people.

The "war on terrorism" is a fraud/hoax
 

Sunni Man

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Afghanistan, Graveyard of Empires


Michni Point, Pakistan's last outpost at the western end of the barren, winding Khyber Pass, stands sentinel over Torkham Gate, the deceptively orderly border crossing into Afghanistan. Frontier Scouts in gray shalwar kameezes (traditional tunics and loose pants) and black berets patrol the lonely station commanded by a major of the legendary Khyber Rifles, the militia force that has been guarding the border with Afghanistan since the nineteenth century, first for British India and then for Pakistan. This spot, perhaps more than any other, has witnessed the traverse of the world's great armies on campaigns of conquest to and from South and Central Asia. All eventually ran into trouble in their encounters with the unruly Afghan tribals.

Alexander the Great sent his supply trains through the Khyber, then skirted northward with his army to the Konar Valley on his campaign in 327 bc. There he ran into fierce resistance and, struck by an Afghan archer's arrow, barely made it to the Indus River with his life. Genghis Khan and the great Mughal emperors began passing through the Khyber a millennium later and ultimately established the greatest of empires -- but only after reaching painful accommodations with the Afghans. From Michni Point, a trained eye can still see the ruins of the Mughal signal towers used to relay complex torch-light messages 1,500 miles from Calcutta to Bukhara in less than an hour.

In the nineteenth century the Khyber became the fulcrum of the Great Game, the contest between the United Kingdom and Russia for control of Central Asia and India. The first Afghan War (1839-42) began when British commanders sent a huge army of British and Indian troops into Afghanistan to secure it against Russian incursions, replacing the ruling emir with a British protege. Facing Afghan opposition, by January 1842 the British were forced to withdraw from Kabul with a column of 16,500 soldiers and civilians, heading east to the garrison at Jalalabad, 110 miles away. Only a single survivor of that group ever made it to Jalalabad safely, though the British forces did recover some prisoners many months later.

According to the late Louis Dupree, the premier historian of Afghanistan, four factors contributed to the British disaster: the occupation of Afghan territory by foreign troops, the placing of an unpopular emir on the throne, the harsh acts of the British-supported Afghans against their local enemies, and the reduction of the subsidies paid to the tribal chiefs by British political agents. The British would repeat these mistakes in the second Afghan War (1878-81), as would the Soviets a century later; the United States would be wise to consider them today.


In the aftermath of the second British misadventure in Afghanistan, Rudyard Kipling penned his immortal lines on the role of the local women in tidying up the
battlefields:


"When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains

And the women come out to cut up what remains

Jest roll to your rifle an' blow out your brains"


http://www.usmessageboard.com/curre...org/.../afghanistan-graveyard-of-empires.html
 
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BlackAsCoal

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good post Bac.

good to see you here.

This is just one huge hole of a mess that will never gain the US anything in the end.
I'm glad to see you and Care here my sister.

Pakistan presents an even greater challenge.

Unfortunately, the "antiar" folks who support Obama are silent at his attempts at Iraqistan.
 

editec

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FYI here's Kiplings whole poem to describe that place and time..

When the 'arf-made recruity goes out to the East
'E acts like a babe an' 'e drinks like a beast,
An' 'e wonders because 'e is frequent deceased
Ere 'e's fit for to serve as a soldier.

Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
So-oldier _of_ the Queen!

Now all you recruities what's drafted to-day,
You shut up your rag-box an' 'ark to my lay,
An' I'll sing you a soldier as far as I may:
A soldier what's fit for a soldier.
Fit, fit, fit for a soldier . . .

First mind you steer clear o' the grog-sellers' huts,
For they sell you Fixed Bay'nets that rots out your guts --
Ay, drink that 'ud eat the live steel from your butts --
An' it's bad for the young British soldier.
Bad, bad, bad for the soldier . . .

When the cholera comes -- as it will past a doubt --
Keep out of the wet and don't go on the shout,
For the sickness gets in as the liquor dies out,
A' it crumples the young British soldier.
Crum-, crum-, crumples the soldier . . .

But the worst o' your foes is the sun over'ead:
You must wear your 'elmet for all that is said:
If 'e finds you uncovered 'e'll knock you down dead,
An' you'll die like a fool of a soldier.

Fool, fool, fool of a soldier . . .

If you're cast for fatigue by a sergeant unkind,
Don't grouse like a woman nor crack on nor blind;
Be handy and civil, and then you will find
That it's beer for the young British soldier.
Beer, beer, beer for the soldier . . .

Now, if you must marry, take care she is old --
A troop-sergeant's widow's the nicest I'm told,
For beauty won't help if your rations is cold,
Nor love ain't enough for a soldier.

'Nough, 'nough, 'nough for a soldier . . .

If the wife should go wrong with a comrade, be loath
To shoot when you catch 'em -- you'll swing, on my oath! --
Make 'im take 'er and keep 'er: that's Hell for them both,
An' you're shut o' the curse of a soldier.

Curse, curse, curse of a soldier . . .

When first under fire an' you're wishful to duck,
Don't look nor take 'eed at the man that is struck,
Be thankful you're livin', and trust to your luck
And march to your front like a soldier.

Front, front, front like a soldier . . .

When 'arf of your bullets fly wide in the ditch,
Don't call your Martini a cross-eyed old bitch;
She's human as you are -- you treat her as sich,
An' she'll fight for the young British soldier.

Fight, fight, fight for the soldier . . .

When shakin' their bustles like ladies so fine,
The guns o' the enemy wheel into line,
Shoot low at the limbers an' don't mind the shine,
For noise never startles the soldier.

Start-, start-, startles the soldier . . .

If your officer's dead and the sergeants look white,
Remember it's ruin to run from a fight:
So take open order, lie down, and sit tight,
And wait for supports like a soldier.

Wait, wait, wait like a soldier . . .

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.

Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
So-oldier _of_ the Queen! -- Rudyard Kipling
source

God, I love Kipling.

An unabashed supporter of the Empire, I think, but one who saw quite clearly what utter madness it was for the poor sods who comprised that pointy end of the empire's bayonette.
 

Diuretic

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Ever seen "The Man Who Would Be King"? Also I think adapted from Kipling. A really interesting film.

Welcome BAC :)
 

AllieBaba

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If we apply the same strategy to Afghanistan as we have in Iraq, we'll win there, too.
 

sealybobo

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If we apply the same strategy to Afghanistan as we have in Iraq, we'll win there, too.
Yes, if we don't define what winning means, then one day when the treasury has dried up and there is no more there to take, we can claim victory there too.
 

Diuretic

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If we apply the same strategy to Afghanistan as we have in Iraq, we'll win there, too.
What bribing them?

The Pathans live there. Their tactic is to wait out the invader while continually resisting them. We should be doing our best to extricate ourselves from Afghanistan, just like every other invader of Afghanistan in history has done.
 

Kevin_Kennedy

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Good post. We need to reign in our empire before it's inevitable collapse. This doesn't mean pulling out of just the middle east though. It's time to bring ALL the troops home.
 

AllieBaba

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That's right. There's no reason we should continue with our arrogant #1 world power title...let's just hand those reins over to somebody else.
 

Diuretic

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That's right. There's no reason we should continue with our arrogant #1 world power title...let's just hand those reins over to somebody else.
Forget the number one world power Allie - it's over. Deal with reality. There is no number one any longer, just a lot of twos, threes and fours.

Getting out of Afghanistan - that's all of us - would be a smart move.
 

AllieBaba

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No, it's not over. We're the number one power. That's why we're the safest, cleanest, and richest nation on the earth.
No matter how guilty you feel about it.
 

Kevin_Kennedy

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No, it's not over. We're the number one power. That's why we're the safest, cleanest, and richest nation on the earth.
No matter how guilty you feel about it.
We are the world hegemon, no doubt about that. As for being safest, cleanest, and richest... That's all debatable. Canada is pretty clean I've heard, though I haven't been there recently. The financial crisis proves that our "wealth" was all basically an illusion, considering it's beginning to crash down around us.
 

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