The war in Afghanistan began on Oct. 7, 2001, with
an American-led NATO invasion of that forlorn, war-torn, and impoverished
nation. In addition, this land-locked nation lacks any strategic importance and
its mineral wealth is miniscule. In other words, Afghanistan lacks any
importance of any kind.
Yet, come October, the U.S. government has spent billions of dollars, lost over 2070 of our best with a NATO total of over 3,120 dead troops. Over 12,000 Americans have been wounded. Afghan casualties are anyone's guess, but guess high. The number is huge. As for Afghan economic infrastructure -- they did not have much infrastructure to begin with -- but what little they had is now destroyed.
All this has been a consistent pattern for Afghanistan that goes back to ancient history. She has not been called the graveyard of empires for nothing. With her rugged terrain, high mountains and passes where a company can hold off a regiment, she has defeated the likes of Alexander, the Great to the British Empire to the Soviet Empire.
Next, in Oct. 2001, came the turn of the American Empire, so named by Bush's neo-conservative friends in the White House. This was a debacle from the very beginning. One statistic says it all. The Soviets devoted nine years and over 100,000 troops to subdue Afghanistan. They left with their tail between their legs. Our Commander-in-Chief sent approximately 3,500 ground troops to subdue the Afghans. That is not enough troops to defeat a country the size of Rhode Island, let alone a country the size of Texas with mountains and passes that rival the Alps. So, we were doomed from the start by our military leaders.
An intelligent individual might have asked in early 2002, "It certainly can't get any worse. Surely, we have learned some lessons." Well, guess what, things got worse and no, we have not learned any lessons. Our esteemed Commander-in-Chief decided in early 2002 (actually that decision was made much earlier) to attack Iraq for various reasons that have proven to be an enigma and a product of Bush's wild imagination that belie known reality. Be that as it may, he was our decider-in-chief and what scant military resources we had in Afghanistan were sent to build-up areas for his invasion of Iraq. In the meantime the war in Afghanistan raged on, and we were losing.
Today, the U.S. has approximately 90,000 combat troops in Afghanistan plus some meager support from our allies in NATO who have now become totally disenchanted with this hopeless, endless war. We are still losing nearly eleven years later. What has the U.S. received for the $443 billion it has spent so far on the war? Nothing but grief. That's the latest estimate from the Congressional Budget Office covering 2001-2011. Yeah, you could say things got worse, much worse.
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Albert Einstein
With all this as a backdrop I recently read two articles that disturbed me greatly. One was written by Dan Murphy, staff writer for the Christian Science Monitor, a highly respected news source for its unbiased reports. The article was entitled Why the Taliban are happy that the US and Pakistan patched things up, http://www.csmonitor.com/layout/set/print/content/view/print/552100. Now that got my attention.
I read with absolute incomprehension, " Pakistan has reopened the trucking routes NATO relies on for getting weapons and other goods into Afghanistan. That has US generals and the Taliban smiling. " Huh, why is the Taliban smiling because a vital supply route for NATO forces has re-opened? Knowing the mirrors within mirrors that engulf this miserable war, I read on with a certain amount of trepidation. Something really nasty was coming my way.
Murphy stated, " This summer's fighting season, both the Taliban and US-led NATO forces have been grumbling. The bullets and other supplies both sides need to pursue the war in the style they've grown accustomed to have been more expensive to bring into the country because Pakistan had closed its border to NATO trucking. The US has had the better of it, with the ability to fund more expensive airdrops and resupply through Central Asia. But both sides have been unhappy about the state of affairs. " He further added, " After months of pressure from the US, Pakistan has finally relented. Resupply was allowed to resume on an interim basis a few weeks ago and today, an agreement was signed to allow NATO resupply into Afghanistan through 2015, and the deal has something for everybody. Pakistan receives $1 billion in military aid the US had frozen in retaliation. NATO resupplies its forces in the war zone cheaper, and faster. And the Taliban, which piggybacks off the vast NATO logistics operation to supply its own forces, is back in business [emphasis is mine]. "
Murphy was relentless. " What? Yes. That's right. It's been public knowledge for years that the Taliban make a mint from extorting protection money from the Afghan and Pakistani truckers who work for NATO. But this fact isn't discussed nearly enough when considering the dynamics of America's longest running war. In an indirect sense, US taxpayers, and to a lesser extent European taxpayers, are paying for the bullets and roadside bombs that target their own soldiers [emphasis is mine]. "
Pouring salt into the wound, Murphy reported, " The Taliban are smiling, according to the Associated Press. " Adding to my remorse, "' Stopping these supplies caused us real trouble,' a Taliban commander who leads about 60 insurgents in eastern Ghazni province told The Associated Press in an interview. "Earnings dropped down pretty badly. Therefore the rebellion was not as strong as we had planned.' A second Taliban commander who controls several dozen fighters in southern Kandahar province said the money from security companies was a key source of financing for the insurgency, which uses it to pay fighters and buy weapons, ammunition and other supplies. "We are able to make money in bundles,' the commander told the AP by telephone. "Therefore, the NATO supply is very important for us.' "
For those of us who served in the military during the Vietnam War, we have a word for this kind of situation. The word is clusterfuck, good word. As a retired Marine officer, this is the most royal clusterfuck I have ever heard in my lifetime.
Already quite despondent about America's misadventures in this dismal debacle called Afghanistan, I then came upon Tom Engelhardt's article writing for TomDispatch entitled Mission Failure Afghanistan: A Message in Blood That No One Wants to Hear, http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175576/ .
Engelhardt is the master at metaphor, bringing stark reality to his readers they won't hear about on the pabulum know today as the mainstream news media. He writes, " Imagine for a moment that almost once a week for the last six months somebody somewhere in this country had burst, well-armed, into a movie theater showing a superhero film and fired into the audience. That would get your attention, wouldn't it? James Holmes times 21? It would dominate the news. We would certainly be consulting experts, trying to make sense of the pattern, groping for explanations. And what if the same thing had also happened almost once every two weeks in 2011? Imagine the shock, imagine the reaction here. "
He continues, " Well, the equivalent has happened in Afghanistan (minus, of course, the superhero movies). It even has a name: green-on-blue violence. In 2012 -- and twice last week -- Afghan soldiers, policemen, or security guards, largely in units being trained or mentored by the U.S. or its NATO allies, have turned their guns on those mentors, the people who are funding, supporting, and teaching them, and pulled the trigger. " He adds, " It's already happened at least 21 times in this half-year, resulting in 30 American and European deaths, a 50% jump from 2011, when similar acts occurred at least 21 times with 35 coalition deaths. (The "at least" is there because, in May, the Associated Press reported that, while U.S. and NATO spokespeople were releasing the news of deaths from such acts, green-on-blue incidents that resulted in no fatalities, even if there were wounded, were sometimes not reported at all.) "