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A Coalition with Deep Fissures

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When something is fundamentally wrong, no amount of schmoozing, arm twisting, declarations of unity or any other phony assertions are going to make it right.

Of course the fundamental wrong in question here is the American lead war in Afghanistan, falsely labeled as the war with the NATO coalition.

That NATO, the cold war relic that should have been dissolved with the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, the primary reason for its existence, is still around trying to justify its presence in Afghanistan is a whole other matter, but that's for another day.

As to the Afghan war, NATO is meeting in Chicago this weekend, a summit of sorts of NATO leaders supposedly meeting to re-affirm their commitment to keep its military forces in Afghanistan until the end of 2014.

At the same time, anti war demonstrators are converging on Chicago to protest the NATO meeting which begins on Sunday, voicing their opposition to this most unnecessary war.

But the fissures within the NATO alliance's continued presence in Afghanistan, is growing.

  New French President Francois Hollande, elected last week, ran on a campaign pledge to withdraw all 3,300 French troops by the end of the year. Last August, the Netherlands withdrew its 1,900 troops; Canada downsized its contingent to 508 today from 2,700 troops in August, while Australia (not even a member of NATO) is to withdraw its contingent of 1,500 by the end of 2013. Meanwhile Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said in February the administration wants to hand off combat operations to the Afghans by the middle or end of next year, not in 2014 as originally planned.

So it's not surprising, all the members in the NATO alliance are reassessing their combat commitments when even the U.S. isn't committed to its own devised plan.

But really, the only reason these other countries are in Afghanistan is simply to placate the U.S. and avoid the wrath of the world's biggest hegemonic power; just give the appearance they support the U.S. operation, but not with a significant presence.

The only problem, even with a bare bones commitment, is the indigenous populations of all the other NATO countries, object to their soldiers fighting and dying in a war they don't believe in. The French people did that directly, defeating President Sarkozy (a supporter of the war) and electing Hollande as a way of making their opposition to the Afghan war clear as day.

Even in the U.S., polls show only 27% still support the war in Afghanistan and even Republicans support has fallen to just 37%.

But here we are, more than 10 years later, fighting an absurd war with no popular support, the original objective of going after Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda cohorts long since discarded, now morphed into fighting a resuscitated Taliban while propping up a corrupt Hamid Karsai who himself has contempt for a U.S. presence that continues to kill and maim innocents and sometimes massacre Afghan citizens.

The sanest people in Chicago this weekend, in and around the NATO summit, will be those protesting and demanding this absurd war in Afghanistan be ended now.

  If only the tone deaf "leaders" in Washington would heed their call.     


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