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Afghanistan: West's 21st Century War Risks Regional Conflagration

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opednews.com Headlined to H2 10/15/09

On October 7 the United States' and NATO's war in Afghanistan entered its ninth year. The escalating conflict has over the past year become indistinguishable from military operations in neighboring Pakistan where the U.S. and NATO have tripled deadly drone missile attacks and the Pakistani army has launched large-scale offensives that have displaced over 3 million civilians in the Northwest Frontier Province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, with the province of Baluchistan the next battle zone.

On September 29 the U.S. conducted four drone attacks in Pakistan's North Waziristan Agency in twenty four hours and during the past year has fired over 60 missiles into the area causing more than 550 deaths.

Three days later the Pentagon announced 72 more American military deaths in the fifteen-nation Operation Enduring Freedom, Greater Afghan War theater - Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Cuba (Guantanamo Bay Naval Base), Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines, the Seychelles, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey and Yemen - bringing the official total to 774.

The U.S. Department of Defense and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) acknowledge that so far this year 406 foreign soldiers have been killed, the bulk of which, 240, are American.

On the eighth anniversary of the beginning of the war, however, an authoritative Russian news source estimated that overall "The United States has...lost 1,500 servicemen, while its allies have lost several hundred." [1]

American and NATO military deaths this year are the highest since the war commenced and are steadily rising. 2009 has also brought the largest amount of Afghan civilian deaths of the war.

Far from the carnage abating any time soon, events of the past week give every indication that the nation scourged by thirty years of war is to be the site of unprecedented Western troop increases and yet more deadly fighting.

On October 3 an American outpost in Afghanistan's Nuristan province was attacked by over 300 insurgents. Eight U.S. soldiers were killed and three Apache helicopters hit by rifle fire or rockets, with the American troops still alive fleeing and a rebel flag left flying over the camp.

In a reminder that the U.S.'s Afghan war is not eight but thirty years old, a Washington Post report of the attack reminded its readers of the major recipient of billions of dollars of CIA money funneled to Pakistan for the fighting in Afghanistan from 1978-1992:

"The attack involved Taliban fighters and appeared to be led by a local commander of the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin insurgent group, which is run by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former mujaheddin leader during the Soviet war in Afghanistan during the 1980s." [2]

The former CIA official who boasted that the campaign to support Hekmatyar and his colleagues, Operation Cyclone, was the "most consequential of all" the agency's "successes" was Robert Gates, now U.S. Defense Secretary in charge of waging the war in Afghanistan.

On October 9 the Wall Street Journal reported that the top military commander of both American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, presented a report to U.S. President Barack Obama which "includes three different options, with the largest alternative including a request for more than 60,000 troops, according to a U.S. official familiar with the document." [3]

The following day the armed forces publication Stars and Stripes posed the question: "As President Barack Obama ponders whether or how to grant his Afghanistan commander's urgent request for up to 60,000 more troops to expand the flagging war against Taliban insurgents, one obvious question arises: Why not simply transfer thousands of soldiers from nearby Iraq?" [4]

The Pentagon has revealed troop rotation plans that include "a combat brigade and combat aviation brigade totaling approximately 6,100 service members," among them "2,800 soldiers of the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade" to "provide sufficient military capability for the NATO-International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)." [5]

The Stars and Stripes also recently reported that General McChrystal's top deputy, Lieutenant General David Rodriguez, will head up "a revised command structure that will go into effect next week...a new, subordinate headquarters called the ISAF Joint Command."

The division of labor, an integral part of plans for the influx of new American and NATO troops and equipment allotted for a marked escalation of combat operations, will permit McChrystal to "focus more on the political and strategic complexities of the Afghanistan mission" and Rodriguez to "assume control of day-to-day tactical operations." [6]

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Rick Rozoff has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. Is the manager of the Stop NATO international email list at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stopnato/

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Why should America travel so far to lose her fourt... by Jason Paz on Thursday, Oct 15, 2009 at 9:18:42 AM