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General News    H3'ed 2/12/10

Shooting Fish in a Barrel in Helmand Province

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In the summer of 2006 journalist Ann Jones wrote in "The Road to Taliban Land"

Most Afghans, after the dispersal of the Taliban, were full of hope and ready to work. The tangible benefits of reconstruction -- jobs, housing, schools, health-care facilities -- could have rallied them to support the government and turn that illusory "democracy" into something like the real thing. But reconstruction didn't happen. When NATO-led forces moved into the southern provinces this summer to keep the peace and continue "development," Lieutenant-General David Richards, British commander of the operation, seemed astonished to find that little or no development had so far taken place.

After 5 or 6 years of literal starvation, in 2006 the Taliban insurgency once again began to take off. Previous to that, suicide bombings were nearly unheard of, but the Taliban's promised wage of $10 per day became sorely tempting. Even former commander of US forces in Afghanistan, and now ambassador the country General Karl Eikenberry told the House Armed Services Committee in 2007: "Much of the enemy force is drawn from the ranks of unemployed men looking for wages to support their families."

Today as the world's mightiest empire deploys its helicopter gunships, F-16s, and other fearsome weaponry on young "insurgents," the vast majority of which would rather not be there, something called "Afghan-ness" is being challenged, much to the delight of the war machine, which guarantees a fight and no surrender, no matter how they really feel about the Taliban. This seems to be the Falluja model unfolding, that way we have of making ourselves loved in the world by bombing people with no air force, deploying supersonic jets at combatants armed with what might as well be slingshots against the jets. AP today reports "US troops close Taliban escape route before attack," which means, it's going to be a turkey shoot.

Make no mistake. I have friends on that American battle line this very moment, one of who told me, for all the money we spend there "we could hire the whole damned country."

"I'm pissed," he said.

No one wants this but the generals. Pull back. If the point is to empty the Taliban from the town, than why seal the escape routes? AP says:

"NATO officials say the goal is to seize the town quickly and re-establish Afghan government authority, bringing public services in hopes of winning support of the townspeople once the Taliban are gone."

So what does it matter how they are gone? It's because the point is not to get them gone to show the villagers a better life. The point is to get the cycle of revenge stoked for a long war. All they need to do is surrender. But they won't now, being Afghans. These are the same people who could be our best friends in the "war on terror," if we weren't so busy making them hate us.

Please go to Robert Naiman's End the War in Afghanistan Action Page and send an email to your representatives. The diarist is the co-founder of Jobs for Afghans.

Did her daddy decide to join the Taliban after she died? VIDEO:

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Ralph Lopez majored in Economics and Political Science at Yale University. He writes for Truth Out, Alternet, Consortium News, Op-Ed News, and other Internet media. He reported from Afghanistan in 2009 and produced a short documentary film on (more...)

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