Wright from Washington City
June 6, 2009


The War on the Afghans
Into the graveyard with Barack & Co.



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It's amazing how quickly the world turns upside down. A year or so ago MoveOn.org (slogan: "Democracy in Action") and various other America-hating left-wing groups were screaming bloody murder about the War on the Iraqis, waterboarding, the bombing of weddings in Afghanistan, and so on. Now, however ... nothing. Not a peep.

Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination on the strength of his opposition to Bush's War, and he won the emperor's throne because Americans were pretty much sick and tired of everything about Bush. Today, Hillary Clinton, one of the most shameless and aggressive advocates for Bush's War in the Democratic Party, is Obama's foreign minister. And his plan to get the troops out of Iraq? The one that the lefties were pushing as the reason to vote for him? It seems to have vanished, as his plan to escalate the War on the Afghans takes its place.

If you believe the Presidential Palace's propaganda, the Obama regime has adopted a sleek, gleaming "comprehensive, new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan," the result of a "comprehensive policy review," conducted no doubt by a comprehensive new bunch of grimly sincere technocrats with wire-rimmed glasses, French cuffs, and no sense of humor.

The trouble is, a look at the "strategy" reveals that it's nothing new at all, but just a tired retread of the magnificently successful Bush approach to Iraq: a "surge" of 17,000 more troops (but don't call it a surge, please); and "shifting the emphasis of our mission to training and increasing the size of Afghan security forces, so that they can eventually take the lead in securing their country" — which, as I remember, was what Clueless George was supposed to be trying to do already in Iraq as well as Afghanistan. And we know how well that's turned out.

But at least this crusade has a clear and focused goal, according to Obama himself on March 27:

I want the American people to understand that we have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future. That's the goal that must be achieved. That is a cause that could not be more just.
It's also a cause that could not be more irrelevant. Most of al Qaeda is already gone from the area (they wore out their welcome with the locals), and besides, by its very nature, it matters little whether its members are holed up in the Pashtun tribal areas or among the Arab populations of European cities. Or in Tahiti, for that matter. The 9/11 attack was planned and carried out by people living in Europe and the United State. Should the Empire invade Europe, too? Or should it end the policies that resulted in the attacks in the first place?

The Obama plan calls for each U.S. fighting unit to be paired with an Afghan one, requiring "an Afghan army of 134,000 and a police force of 82,000 so that we can meet these goals by 2011." On top of that, swarms of civilian "advisors" are to descend as the gentle rain upon the grateful Afghans, bringing them enlightenment:

So to advance security, opportunity and justice — not just in Kabul, but from the bottom up in the provinces — we need agricultural specialists and educators, engineers and lawyers. That's how we can help the Afghan government serve its people and develop an economy that isn't dominated by illicit drugs. [1]
Hearts and minds, men! Hearts and minds! Let's get those tribesmen suing each other like civilized people. All we have to do is build a few roads and schools, teach the Afghan "government" how to deliver "services" to irritable mountain men who'd rather be left alone, and develop a modern liberal-socialist democracy and industrial economy in one of the most savage, backward, Godforsaken holes on the face of the Earth.

How hard could it be? And it mirrors what Obama and his earnestly ruthless pack of "progressive" hangers-on want to do here at home: transform the entire society into an environmentally and politically correct utopia — whether we want it or not. To make matters worse, they want to meddle in the ancient customs regarding the status of women. I'm sure that will go over well:

And we will continue to support the basic human rights of all Afghans — including women and girls.
Dexter Filkins, a war correspondent for the New York Times and author of the best-selling (and appropriately titled) book The Forever War, tells of being present in Kandahar when some women demonstrated in favor of education for girls. They were overwhelmed by a furious mob of men shouting "Whores!", beaten, and driven away. It would seem that Afghan society is not entirely receptive to the Obama regime's concept of human rights.

Talk about out of the frying pan. If Obama had deliberately chosen to outdo George Bush's disastrous foreign policy with a bloody, shrieking multiple train wreck, he could hardly have chosen better — short of pushing the Button and sending the nukes to Moscow.

The reason is that Afghanistan is Anbar Province cubed. It's huge, for one thing — about the size of Texas, except that its actual square footage is much greater because so much of the terrain is mountainous. It's as if someone had taken a flat piece of land the size of Alaska and scrunched it up to fit. There are so many mountains, valleys, passes, caves, villages, camel trails, etc., that it provides near-perfect terrain for guerrilla warfare. And, not surprisingly, the Afghans, most notably the Pashtun tribe, are famous for just that.

The Pashtuns have made resistance to invaders a way of life. It's what they do. In fact, it seems to be just about all they can do, besides grow opium and raise goats. And when they don't have any invaders to fight, they fight their neighbors or each other, just to keep in practice. They and their fellow Afghans have managed to make life miserable for foreign invaders since the time of the Moghuls, at least. More recently, the British invaded and were forced out three times. The first time, in 1842, only one member of the 16,000-strong contingent survived.

The Soviets were the last to try to subdue the Afghans, after they rose up against a communist regime that tried to, um, remake their society. Like their predecessors, the Sovs left with their tail between their legs, having suffered 14,000 killed and missing, and more than 450,000 wounded and cut down by disease. Soon after, the Soviet Empire collapsed.

They don't call Afghanistan the "graveyard of empires" for nothing.

The unsuccessful Soviet force numbered more than 100,000 troops. Obama wants to increase the number of U.S. forces there to 68,000, in addition, of course, to the increasingly reluctant NATO contingent of about 32,000. That brings us to — hmm — 100,000 troops.

Am I missing something here?

Neither Obama nor his generals have been able to come up with the absolute first requirement for fighting any war — besides a good reason, which they also don't have. That would be a strategic objective for his hugely expensive crusade against a bunch of goatherds with AK-47s. The foreseeable consequences are already apparent: increased violence, especially along the Pakistan border, with Pashtun fighters as often as not getting the better of the Imperial Storm Troopers and then vanishing when reinforcements are called in.

In the meantime, Imperial positions are held for a while and then abandoned; tactics seem to consist of using smart weapons to assassinate people and sending the troops out to blunder around until they get ambushed; and the generals don't seem to have any plan at all except putting out the next fire. It's almost as if Obama were possessed by the ghost of LBJ and bent on replaying Vietnam.

But the real insanity is happening over the border, in Pakistan. There Obama's enlightened policies have stirred up a gigantic hornet's nest. The resulting disorder threatens to become a full-fledged civil war — much the way Nixon's ill-advised attacks on Cambodia precipitated the vile, murderous reign of the Khmer Rouge. But, while Cambodia's torment had little effect on the War on the Vietnamese, a destabilized Pakistan would pose a big threat to the Empire's Afghanistan campaign — because U.S. forces get most of their supplies by truck through Pakistan. [2] Already supply trucks are being attacked in Pakistan, and recently a truck park was attacked and a large number of trucks hired for resupply blown up. To top off the whole mess, Pakistan has nuclear weapons, which we are assured will never, ever fall into the hands of Islamic extremists no matter what happens. Ever.

The problem is that Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province is full of Pashtuns, just like the adjoining region of Afghanistan. As with many borders drawn by empires — in this case, the British — that frontier is largely irrelevant to the locals, who treat it as if it isn't there. That means that the Pakistani side of the border makes a dandy refuge for Pashtun resistance fighters against the U.S. occupation, as it was during the previous Soviet one.

The United State has high-handedly demanded that the Pakistani regime go in and clean out those nasty "Taliban" terrorists. [3] But, for excellent reasons, the Paks have been reluctant.

First: Under the Pakistani constitution, the province, with its irascible Pashtun population, is a no-go zone for the Pakistani military. The area is treated as largely autonomous, and in the past the central regime wisely took the attitude that sleeping dogs are better left alone.

Second: The Pakistani regime is walking a tightrope. It is fabulously corrupt and incompetent, and has little or no credibility with the majority of its population; and its relationship with the United State is a major sore spot. The vast majority of the population is violently opposed to the U.S. War on the Afghans.

The military dictator Pervez Musharraf was forced to resign last year, in part because of widespread outrage over his cooperation with the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan.

His replacement is President Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of assassinated former President Benazir Bhutto, who was forced out of office by Musharraf ostensibly for corruption and, incidentally, seems to have had her own brother (among others) murdered in a power struggle. Zardari is accused of various corrupt practices, including receiving bribes and kickbacks while his wife was in power. He is considered one of the five wealthiest men in the country, with a net worth of about $1.8 billion.

Zardari is already having problems with his own popularity, in part because he reneged on his promises to institute reforms, and in part because, like his predecessor, he supports Imperial adventures in the area in return for more than a billion dollars in U.S. "aid" per year. After he failed to satisfy U.S. demands to quell "Taliban" activity in the border areas, the Obama regime decided to take matters into its own hands and began rocketing suspected "Taliban" hideouts inside Pakistan using Predator drones. The predictable result was scores of civilian casualties, little or no damage to the guerrillas, and justified outrage among Pakistanis on the street.

Which brings us to the latest Imperial bull-in-a-china-shop move. The Obama regime successfully pressured Zardari to send troops into the province — notably the Swat Valley — to stop "Islamic militants" who "imposed strict Sharia law" under a peace agreement with the Pak state several years ago. After a month of fighting, the effects are unsurprising: up to 3 million refugees, a spreading conflict, an increasingly angry and restive populace throughout the country, and little or no positive benefit to the Empire in Afghanistan. To complicate things still further, the Pak army and secret police have strong sympathies with the Taliban — again, no surprise, considering that those agencies were the conduit through which U.S. aid was funneled to the Afghan "freedom fighters" during the Soviet occupation.

In other words, Emperor Obama is cultivating disaster. If Pakistan boils over, things will go from bad to catastrophic for his legions in Afghanistan. The Empire will be faced with fighting another hostile population, in one of the most populous countries on Earth, just so that it can continue to support its campaign in Afghanistan, which is trying to turn that country into something it can never be.

Already, the signs are not good. On May 27, suicide attackers set off a huge car bomb in Lahore, Pakistan's second largest city, which is on the opposite side of the country from the Swat Valley. The bomb killed about 30 people, wounded more than 250, and devastated half a city block. The Taliban took official responsibility and vowed more attacks as long as the Pak army's offensive continues. Then, three days later, another bomb went off in a bus station near the Afghan border, killing two. The UN and relief agencies are warning of a food crisis and possible humanitarian disaster caused by the fighting. And soldiers and police are reportedly deserting en masse in Swat itself, rather than fight angry Pashtuns.

Meanwhile, Iraq has enjoyed something of a letup in the sectarian violence that finished the job the Empire began of destroying the country. Ironically, one reason for the lull, if you can call it that, was the success of the massive ethnic cleansing that resulted in 4 million refugees, half of whom were forced to leave the country. Another reason was the Empire's policy of bribing Sunni insurgents to switch sides and fight the increasingly unpopular al Qaeda in Iraq, which did not exist until after the Empire invaded. Unfortunately for the continued success of the "surge," the Imperial Legions turned over responsibility for financing the so-called Sunni Awakening to the Shiite regime of Nuri al-Maliki, which sees no reason to help the hated Sunnis. It promptly cut them off and began harassing them, resulting in violence portending a possible return to out-and-out civil war. So much for Obama's two-faced proclamation that "the surge worked."

But never mind. Our trained herd of bureaucrats will measure everything. We'll establish "metrics" (shades of Rumsfeld!) and fine-tune every little detail. If we set all the dials just right, how can we fail? Thus spake the Emperor:

Going forward, we will not blindly stay the course. Instead, we will set clear metrics to measure progress and hold ourselves accountable. We'll consistently assess our efforts to train Afghan security forces and our progress in combating insurgents. We will measure the growth of Afghanistan's economy, and its illicit narcotics production. And we will review whether we are using the right tools and tactics to make progress towards accomplishing our goals.

And I thought George Bush was stupid.

June 6, 2009

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1. Need I point out that Afghanistan had pretty much stopped growing opium under the Taliban, and that since the Empire invaded, it has become the world's largest producer?

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3. I put "Taliban" in quotes because it is by no means clear how many of the guerrillas fighting the Empire in Afghanistan are Taliban, and how many are merely tribesmen doing what they have always done: fight invaders.

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2. Interestingly, the Russian regime has agreed to allow Imperial forces to receive some supplies through Russia. It would seem that the Russians, having put up with various kinds of ill-treatment recently at the hands of Bush Jong-il — and still, no doubt, smarting over the U.S. aid to Afghan "freedom fighters" during the Soviet occupation — have found the perfect revenge: giving the Americans exactly what they want. They are gleefully helping the United State dig itself deeper into the same hellhole the Russians suffered in. In any case, if the Pakistan supply route is disrupted, supplies from Russia will be hard pressed to reach the areas in the south in which the guerrillas are most active.

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