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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/29/11

Inevitable Retreat In Afghanistan

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The Pentagon and the White House are holding their breath, hoping no one notices the deepening of their clusterf^^k in Afghanistan. As if to underscore the folly of their escalated military offensive, U.S. troops are planning to start withdrawing from Kandahar, the self-proclaimed center of their terror war.

WaPo reported yesterday that: "American military commanders were encouraged by an overall decline in violence in Kandahar over the summer fighting season," and that, "With President Obama having ordered the withdrawal of 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by December -- and twice that by the following fall -- some combat troops must leave the south, where the bulk of American forces are located, commanders said. "Their goal is to replicate the situation in the Afghan capital, Kabul, where coalition troops have a low-visibility presence and serve as advisers to Afghan soldiers and police."

"We will begin to thin out and turn over security of Kandahar to the Afghan security forces, in a similar fashion as we did Kabul," said Lt. Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, the second-ranking commander in Afghanistan. Yet, it is precisely the defense of Kabul that is on the military commanders' minds -- much like the defense of Baghdad became Bush's last stand in Iraq.

The pullback from their self-defined litmus test in Kandahar is no surprise. Declaring that, 'This is not Fallujah', NATO had announced at the beginning of 2010 that they were counting on local 'political leaders' to direct the upcoming U.S.-led assault on their neighborhoods and communities in Kandahar. They pressed on into Kandahar City after declaring 'success' and 'progress' in their assault and takeover of the town of Marjah - an operation which also was preceded by the killing of civilians fleeing the announced raid by NATO forces bent on replacing the Taliban-based authority in the town of 80.000 with representatives from the corrupt Karzai regime.

In the pending Kandahar advance, as in the weeks leading up to the military offensive against Marjah, NATO sought to soften their path by warning off potential resistors and allowing them (and the residents in the way) time to flee to other parts of the country. No refugee centers were established to handle the anticipated flight of residents from the promised fighting on all sides; no provisions of food provided, no medical centers set up, no living quarters contemplated for the residents forced out of their homes by the invading forces.

"The solution to Kandahar will not be done through security," said the other NATO official, who's a senior U.S. military official in Kabul. "It will be enhanced through security. But the change, the real dramatic change for Kandahar, will have to happen politically."

That sentiment was echoed in the remarks of Secretary of State Clinton this week in testimony before Congress in which she described a 'two-pronged' approach in Afghanistan which involved 'talks' with the Taliban, coupled with continued military assaults on the Afghan resistance.

Yet, it's not very likely NATO will ever be able to emphasize their 'political' aims over the destructive and destabilizing impact on the communities of Kandahar from the devastating, U.S.-led military offensive. Through the force of our weapons - outside the limits that our constitution proscribes for the use of our military defenses - we're representing a corrupt regime and imposing it on the Afghan population, especially in regions which were not engaged in elections that we claim gives the new government legitimacy.

Even our would-be puppet, Karzai, has bristled and balked at the prospect of more destructive NATO conquest in Afghanistan on his behalf. The once-willing accomplice has seen the political writing on the wall and appears to be looking to settle for the assumption of power wherever the Taliban would allow. His reported outburst at the beginning of the Kandahar campaign, threatening to 'join the Taliban', was a open-warning to the U.S. that he recognizes there is no 'political solution' that can be reasonably carved out of the devastating, withering military campaign.

The military is quietly hoping we don't notice that they didn't actually transform that Marjah misadventure from the leveling of homes, the taking of residents' lives, and the destruction of farmland and livestock into the nation-building success that they intended for the mission to highlight.

As recently as this Thursday, Taliban fighters launched multiple attacks on two U.S. bases killing three Afghans and wounded six Americans. Despite that continued violence and the prospect of the Taliban forces returning, the Pentagon is committed (finally) to moving out of Kandahar.

The planned drawdown, however, is not born out of any political success or victory, but out of a certain realization that there will never be a defining end to the resistant violence there which will transform the country politically.

The only course left for a beleaguered and faltering U.S. invasion force is to pull back to the capital from their offensive positions in the south of the country and stage a desperate defense of their propped-up, yet insolent regime.

The premise behind President Obama's initial 'surge' of U.S. troops into Bush's Afghanistan quagmire was to 'push back' resisting Afghans enough to allow some sort of political reconciliation. That effort is predictably bogged down by the difficulty in getting the disparate tribes and factions to accept the central authority NATO has set up in Kabul. There's even more difficulty in getting their installed government to accommodate the interests and demands of the resisting rest of the war-split nation.

The U.S. military offensive against Kandahar was an abject failure. What happened to the promised ability of the U.S.-led NATO forces to protect the residents of Kandahar against Taliban blowback from their invasion? Nonexistent. The ability to protect innocent civilians from NATO attacks, or insulate them from the negative consequences and effects of the NATO military advance? Nonexistent. The ability of NATO to provide and deliver the services and amenities of the central government to the displaced residents? Nonexistent.

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Ron Fullwood, is an activist from Columbia, Md. and the author of the book 'Power of Mischief' : Military Industry Executives are Making Bush Policy and the Country is Paying the Price
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