In the bloodiest year yet for the U.S. and NATO in Afghanistan, 155 American troops and 138 NATO troops were killed in 2008. Those deaths were casualties of the policies of the U.S. dominated NATO which has our troops engaged in missions there ranging from aid and reconstruction; defense of outposts in cities and the border region near Pakistan; patrolling and protecting supply routes; and intercepting and destroying weapons and the combatants who use them in resistance to NATO's nation-building occupation.
The drift of the mission of our forces in Afghanistan, as in Iraq, has been to the desperate defense of the Afghan regime which was installed behind the 'shock and awe' of our invasion following the 9-11 attacks. Like the privileged regime in Iraq which was enabled into influence and authority with votes cast in a dubious election by a minority of citizens under the heavy-hand of their country's invaders, the regime in Kabul relies on their own 'Green Zone' of defense of our military forces as their seat of power to lord over the impoverished country.
It's that opportunistic area of concern surrounding the Afghan regime that the Pentagon has recently designated to receive the bulk of forces which are to be reduced from the Iraqi theater. Some 20,000 to 50,000 troops are to be sent from Iraq to Afghanistan to escalate the occupation of the cities and towns surrounding the Afghan capital and to aid in the desperate defense of the government against the myriads of separate factions which have evolved out of NATO's cynical attempt to dominate the millions of Afghans with their puny, destructive forces.
Some of the forces reduced from the Iraq occupation will undoubtedly be sent to help defend remote outposts which have served as a wavering front-line of defense against invading forces from growing ranks of the disaffected among the exports from the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan who enjoy safe-haven across the border into Pakistan and who have identified themselves with and been inspired by the freedom and impunity of the original 9-11 fugitives who were allowed to escape there.
When those terrorist attacks were perpetrated, there was only isolated resistance and violence directed against U.S. interests and allies in the region. In the bloody aftermath of the Bush administration's provocative invasion of Iraq, terrorist acts of violence have increased and expanded across the globe.
As early as May of 2003, the Brookings Institute found that the invasion of Iraq had "increased the risk of attacks in the United States and Europe by increasing the level of Islamist and anti-American rhetoric, by diverting the attention of political leaders from the central issue of the war on terrorism, and by encouraging the view among the public that the war on terrorism is nearly won."
Now, at the apex of the results and effects of that resistance to the increased and proliferating U.S. military presence and activity in the region over the years since the Iraq invasion, the Pentagon is poised to stage some sort of sustaining defense in Afghanistan of their own representation of 'democracy' in Kabul against whoever would resist the codifying of Bush's swaggering advance on their territory. The Arab resistance to that advance by NATO forces threatens to be withering and devastating to those U.S.-dominated troops that have been directed to oppose the myriads of factions defending their own piece of their occupied country.
The only lesson that our military invasions have imposed on the region is the one which the authors of the deployments purport to oppose; that of the efficacy of military force and violence as an ultimate avenue to power and authority. In Iraq and Afghanistan, those who support the U.S. military-enabled regimes and seek protection behind our dominating forces are considered 'democratic' and legitimate -- while those who choose to be or find themselves outside of that imposed influence are to be opposed as 'insurgent' or 'radical' in their opposition and defense of their chosen territory against NATO's selfish advance.
In fact, the next opportunity for Afghans to 'vote' on the composition of their imposed authority in Kabul is on the horizon for 2009. The increased occupation is also designed to facilitate that election and to provide the same sort of 'with us or against us' choice that our invading and occupying forces in Iraq offered the citizens there.
The plot which is emerging in this Potemkin defense of democracy in Kabul is one which is already well-know to Afghans. Opposition communities will be occupied and intimidated by our forces while supportive communities will be protected and enabled in the run-up to the balloting. The outcome of the vote will likely resemble whatever minority composition of the Afghan population feels unencumbered by the regime's heavy-hand to cast their ballot in their favor.
The result, however, may well bolster whatever legitimacy the West wants to place on their enabled rule in Kabul, but the effect of the increased military activity will have a predictable effect of aligning the myriads of Afghans who are now being led to oppose one another, to band together in resistance against their country's foreign invaders.
Whatever the goals of the next administration are in their deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq, they have already been corrupted by a mindset which assumes that our ability to seize and hold territory will impress more than it will repel. The next strategy appears to be an attempt to thread the needle of resistance to the U.S. advance on Afghan territory with a promise of 'stability' of their installed regime.
The counter to that bunk is that nothing at all has been done to address the original complaint of Muslims and Arabs in the way of our nation's swaggering advance across their sovereign borders; that the very presence of our military on their soil is an intolerable aggravation to their religion, values and their wishes - as well as a threat to a great deal of their own safety and security. The devastating effect of our military intervention in the region, which has cost so many lives caught up in the way of the Bush administration's nation-building folly so far, will only deepen with every tweak and correction that intends to 'win' some sort of 'victory' outside of the pursuit of the original 9-11 suspects.
No one expected our forces to prop up anti-democratic, corrupt regimes to counter the attacks on our nation and there isn't any great mass of support in America for investing lives and treasure continuing that pursuit. I hope the next administration remembers the lessons of our interventions so far as they 'write letters to the families of the troops' who lose their lives for their strategies and schemes they've planned in the region for the future.