The latest absurdity in the war against Afghanistan
perpetrated by American-led NATO forces -- I almost feel like a fool for writing
such a preposterous statement, Afghanistan vs. NATO!!! -- is that Pakistan now wants
to extort $365M/yr. from NATO countries to re-open supply lines Pakistan closed
due to a friendly fire incident six months ago.
However, the preposterous statement made above is the nature of the Afghan war. It is a preposterous war, a fool's war where nothing makes any sense.
Let's return to the very early stages of this elongated disastrous war, to Nov. and Dec. 2001. The Al-Qa'ida and Taliban forces and their leadership were trapped in a mountain redoubt called Tora Bora. It was being bombed mercilessly by B-52's. It was a relatively simple task to complete the mission, and bin Laden even apologized to his followers for leading them to their demise. Unfortunately, our Commander-in-Chief at the time, George W. Bush, failed to send enough troops for the mission. American commanders were forced to use indigenous troops -- actually Afghan tribal forces -- to guard the back door. Instead, the tribal chief used his forces to lead the Al-Qa'ida and Taliban insurgents to safety into the mountains of western Pakistan. It took another 9- - years to track down and kill bin Laden. We have yet to track down the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar.
Following this ignominy, the Afghan war soon became an afterthought in the Bush administration and the media when Bush initiated a totally useless war in Iraq based entirely on false premises, causing thousands of deaths, injuries, destruction, economic ruin for both countries, and homelessness while producing negative results for the West. This forgetful war lasted 8- - years and among its unintended consequences was its strengthening of Iran's stature in the Middle East. Meanwhile, the Afghan war languished as a backdrop, although hundreds were still dying, and also producing counter-productive results. The Afghan war dragged on during the entire Bush administration. He was unable to achieve victory over one of the most impoverished nations on Earth with our vaunted and glorious military. By the end of the Bush administration two things were clear. Al-Qa'ida had been removed from Afghanistan, moving from a land-locked nation to other parts of the world, removing our reason for the war, and the Taliban was gaining in strength. This created confusion with the American people. Afghanistan, under Taliban rule, did not attack the U.S. Al-Qa'ida did. Why are we fighting the Taliban? We don't like their religion? What business is that of ours?
The op name of the war in Afghanistan is Enduring Freedom. That name is apt. This war certainly has been enduring, over 10- - years now, and no one knows exactly why, even our current commander-in-Chief, President Obama. More on that in a moment.
The ignominy continues. In the meantime liberals and many conservatives were clamoring for an exit from Afghanistan, weary of fighting a war seemingly without a reason. One would have thought that the election of a liberal President would have changed matters and our troops could head for the exits. Once again, it was not to be. Obama adopted the same position as his predecessor. He even went a step further, something Bush did not even contemplate. Obama mounted a surge in Afghanistan. Of course, as one would expect, this was accompanied by a surge in combatant and civilian deaths.
The reasons given by the Obama administration for the continuation of this war and the surge, beyond the argument that this is the "right war," are pathologically absurd and follow the same pattern as the Bush administration. They are: one, to prevent Afghanistan ever becoming a haven for terrorists, and two, to create a freedom-loving democratic Western-oriented Afghanistan. Terrorists, like Al-Qa'ida, are no longer interested in land-locked Afghanistan. They have found more user-friendly sites like Yemen, Somalia, and North Africa with an abundance of coastlines. Afghanis are the one of the least educated peoples on the planet. They have a gun society that relies on tribal loyalty. They are incapable of trusting local politicians, let alone politicians in "democratic" Kabul, not to mention that Afghan politicians are inherently corrupt. It is in their genes " and their culture. In other words, anything remotely representing a democratic republic in Afghanistan is virtually impossible.
Ignominy continues unabated in this relentless war. The media is projecting this war as over " almost. They keep repeating over and over again that the combat mission of the American-led NATO forces is about to end, meekly adding in 2014. The media has conveniently dropped the proviso " the end of 2014. That is over 2- - years from now. It is time, Obama said, to "responsibly bring this war to an end." Statements like these only add to consternation and befuddlement. This war is far from over for another reason entirely.
What the media and the Obama administration are saying is a total lie.
Columnist Robert Naiman writes, "'I can't let this be a war without end, and I can't lose the whole Democratic Party.' That was President Obama, describing his Afghan war policy, according to Bob Woodward's 2010 book. But until this moment, the administration is still letting it be a war without end, and the Afghan war policy has lost not only the whole Democratic Party, but a substantial part of the Republican Party as well: the majority of Republican voters, for example."
Ignominy piled on top of endless ignominy, despite the fact that 60% of Americans are strongly opposed to any extended stay of American troops in Afghanistan -- many want those troops home yesterday -- the Obama administration agreed to a U.S./Afghan Strategic Partnership Agreement, or SPA, in which our combat troops will remain in Afghanistan until 2024. True, Obama has said their mission will change from combat to training. This statement is disingenuous. They are still combat troops, armed and at the ready. To "train" the Afghan security forces they are expected to accompany them on combat missions. This means our trainers/combat troops are expected to defend themselves against the dreaded Taliban " and Afghan security forces. In addition, as part of the SPA, the U.S. is expected to carry out counter-terrorist missions. This means the existence of Special Operations Forces (SOF). The reality is SOF's are the crÃ¨me de la crÃ¨me of our combat troops. In all 20,000 American troops are expected to stay in Afghanistan until 2024.There is little doubt that our ubiquitous drones will also be playing a role after 2014. So much for ending combat operations in Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
So, now we come to the final ignominy, Pakistan, supposedly an ally, is extorting NATO to reopen badly needed supply lines to Afghanistan that have been closed for months, increasing the cost of this hapless war exponentially. Any informed reader knows that Pakistan is the problem, not the solution. What remains of the old Al-Qa'ida leadership is hiding in the inaccessible mountains and passes of western Pakistan. What remains of the Afghan Taliban leadership is hiding in the inaccessible mountains and passes of western Pakistan. The Pakistani Taliban, with the possible assist of the ISI, Pakistan's intelligence agency, demonstrably aids the Pakistani Taliban. Most Taliban attacks originate for Pakistan followed by their retreat to the protective mountains and passes of western Pakistan. After a 9- - year hunt bin Laden was hunted down and killed in a Pakistani military town where he had lived in sanctuary for years.
As mentioned earlier the original figure of this Pakistani extortion racket was $365M a year. That figure was based on roughly $1500 to $1800 a truck. Unfortunately, that onerous deal has not been finalized as negotiations with Pakistan to reopen the supply routes continues much to American and NATO dissatisfaction because Pakistan is operating as anything but an ally. Russia, not exactly an American ally, has been more cooperative. Now the Pakistanis are demanding $5,000 a truck plus additional funds for road repairs. What we ought to do is abandon our useless efforts in Afghanistan -- our problems are not there -- and declare war on Pakistan -- our problems lie there. Yes, of course, I'm kidding. We have enough problems.
However, to illustrate the conundrum we now face in Southwest Asia, a friend of mine, a Republican who favored the war in Afghanistan, once told me that the reason we are fighting the war in Afghanistan is so that we can attack the enemy in Pakistan. To be perfectly honest that makes about as much sense as anything Obama is saying these days; the war is almost over (in 2 - years), all NATO combat operations will cease next summer, and all combat troops will leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014 (well, except for 20,000 Americans who will be left behind).
Why can't the President just tell Americans the truth? Two reasons, the truth is hard reality, tough to swallow, and politicians detest hard reality; they would rather sugarcoat an issue. Also, the President's current position on Afghanistan, the ethereal reasons for fighting the war, are indefensible and make little sense to anyone. Americans are not buying it, not by along shot.
Why Obama cannot see that is beyond comprehension.