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Pentagon issues grim review of Afghanistan war

By       Message Bill van Auken       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

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Violence has reached record levels in Afghanistan, and the resistance to the US-led occupation is more widespread than ever, according to a report issued by the Pentagon.

The semiannual report, required by Congress, provides a grim assessment of the US war, now in its tenth year, giving the lie to rosy public statements issued by the Obama administration and senior military commanders.

The report, released this week, is titled, "Progress toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan," but its contents suggest that in doubling the number of US troops deployed in Afghanistan since taking office, President Barack Obama has only created a deeper quagmire for the US military.

With nearly 100,000 American soldiers and Marines and another 50,000 other NATO and foreign troops participating in the occupation, the report found that security conditions in 124 districts viewed by NATO as "key terrain" remained "relatively unchanged."

The report states, "Progress across the country remains uneven, with modest gains in security, governance and development in operational priority areas." It described progress as "slow and incremental."

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What has changed sharply, however, is the number of Afghans dying and the level of violence, which has risen in tandem with the increase in the number of foreign troops deployed in the country.

The report, which covers developments from last April through September, cites a 300 percent increase in armed clashes since 2007 and a 70 percent rise since last year.

Despite the US troop buildup, the report concedes that "The insurgency has proven resilient with sustained logistics capacity and command and control." It acknowledges that the Taliban and other anti-occupation forces have managed to "retain operational momentum in some areas."

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According to the Pentagon survey, the number of Afghans describing their security situation as "bad" has likewise risen to its highest level. Stating the self-evident, the report continues by noting that the "downward trend in security perception is likely due to the steady increase in total violence over the past nine months."

Pointing toward the threat of a wider war, the report blames the continued strength of the resistance on so-called "insurgent safe havens" across Afghanistan's borders in Pakistan as well as Iran.

"Efforts to reduce insurgent capacity, such as safe havens and logistic support originating in Pakistan and Iran, have not produced measurable results," the report states.

It also attributes the gains of the armed anti-government groups to the corrupt character of the US-backed puppet regime headed by President Hamid Karzai.

"Corruption continues to have a corrosive effect on ISAF efforts in Afghanistan," it states. "Afghan perceptions of injustice and the abuse of power fuel the insurgency in many areas more than the Afghan Government's inability to provide services do."

The survey conducted by the US military in September found that "80.6 percent of Afghans polled believe corruption affects their daily lives."

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The report adds, "This is consistent with the view that corruption is preventing the Afghan government from connecting with the people and remains a key reason for Afghans supporting the insurgency."

While the report claims that the growth of the Afghan National Army (ANA) stood out as "one most promising areas of progress," it acknowledges that "numerous challenges persist." Among these it notes continuing high rate of attrition in which newly trained Afghan soldiers melt away.

It also admits that recruitment of Pashtuns into the Afghan military has remained exceedingly low. Afghanistan's largest ethnic group, Pashtuns account for 42 percent of the population. But according to the report, southern Pashtuns, concentrated in the provinces of Helmand and Kandahar, the center of the insurgency, account for just 3 percent of recruits. This means that the Afghan forces being deployed there are themselves an outside occupation force, largely reproducing the battle lines that prevailed in the civil war that raged in the country in the 1990s.

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Bill Van Auken (born 1950) is a politician and activist for the Socialist Equality Party and was a presidential candidate in the U.S. election of 2004, announcing his candidacy on January 27, 2004. His running mate was Jim Lawrence. He came in 15th (more...)

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