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U.S. And NATO To Wage War 15-Year War In Afghanistan And Pakistan

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U.S. And NATO To Wage War 15-Year War In Afghanistan And Pakistan
Rick Rozoff

On October 4 President Barack Obama and what the press characterized as his war council conducted a 30-minute video conference with Obama's Afghan opposite number, President Hamid Karzai, to discuss "a number of topics, including the strategic vision for long term US-Afghan relations, the recent Afghan parliamentary elections, and regional relations."

A statement issued by the White House later in the day added that "The two leaders agreed that they should continue routine engagements to refine a common vision and to align our efforts to support President Karzai's goal of completing transition to Afghan lead security responsibility by 2014." [1]

The conference also included Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington and commander of all U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces in Afghanistan General David Petraeus and American ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry from Kabul.

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October 7 will mark the advent of the tenth year of the war waged by Washington in South Asia, the longest continuous combat operations in U.S. history. By invoking its Article 5 collective military assistance clause on September 12, 2001, NATO also joined the war effort and officially took over the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in August of 2003.

There are now at least 152,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, 120,000 under NATO command, and according to several recent statements by American and NATO officials most if not all them of them will remain there beyond the 2011 withdrawal date announced by the American administration last year.

If troops from all the major Western military powers in theater remain beyond New Year's Eve of 2014, they will be engaged in the fifteenth calendar year of the Pentagon's and NATO's war in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan. The conflict has also allowed the expansion of American and Alliance military bases into Central Asia - Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan - and the elaboration of networks for the transit of troops, military equipment and supplies and for combat training and bombing runs from Estonia and Latvia on the Baltic Sea to Georgia on the Black Sea and Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan on the Caspian Sea as well as in several other nations from Eastern Europe to the so-called Broader Middle East including Pakistan, Kuwait, Iraq, Jordan, Diego Garcia, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Kazakhstan.

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The fruitless pursuit of the ever more elusive Osama bin Laden and Mullah Mohammed Omar - as such remains the official rationale of the U.S. and the 50 military partners under NATO's umbrella in the Afghan war zone - has not registered any progress in nine years, though thousands of Afghans and Pakistanis who had no contact with either of the evasive fugitives have been killed in overnight raids, checkpoint shootings, bombing runs and drone missile strikes. Cluster bomb fragments and depleted uranium residue will guarantee more deaths into the indefinite future.

Also on October 4, President Obama handed over his administration's latest classified report on the war in Afghanistan to Congress, in which he wrote: "We are continuing to implement the policy as described in December and do not believe further adjustments are required at this time." [2] He was referring to the decision to deploy an additional 30,000 U.S. troops, which has been accompanied by a dramatic escalation of lethal drone attacks inside Pakistan.

U.S. and NATO troop strength in Afghanistan has recently passed the 150,000 mark. Two years ago there were an estimated 34,000 U.S. troops and approximately 28,000 from other NATO nations in the country. The increase since 2008 is almost 250 percent. Recently the number of nations supplying troops for NATO's ISAF mission has also grown, with commitments secured from nations like Armenia, Georgia, Colombia, Mongolia, Malaysia, South Korea (a second time), Montenegro and Tonga. General Roger Brady, outgoing commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe, recently stated that 39 European nations have troops assigned to NATO in Afghanistan. The amount of countries supplying military contingents for and those that have lost troops in one nation are unprecedented.

Two major milestones were reached in the last full month of the ninth year of the war on both sides of the Durand Line that separates Afghanistan and Pakistan. With 59 NATO soldiers killed in September, the combined U.S. and NATO death toll this year in Afghanistan exceeded the previous annual high of 2009, 521. As of October 4, 561 U.S. and NATO soldiers have died this year. The three months before last were the deadliest for foreign forces in the nine-year war: 103 in June, 88 in July and 79 in August.

U.S. and NATO deaths for 2009 and so far this year account for over half of the total of 2,129 killed since the beginning of the war: 1,082. The war dead include troops from 27 nations: 20 of 28 NATO member states and seven partner nations - Australia, Finland, Georgia, Jordan, New Zealand, South Korea and Sweden.

On the other side of the Khyber Pass, last month the U.S. launched the most deadly drone missile attacks inside Pakistan since they began in 2004. At least 22 unmanned aerial vehicle strikes in the nation's Federally Administered Tribal Areas caused a record amount of deaths, of alleged insurgents and civilians alike.

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In May U.S. Marine Corps Brigadier General Glenn Walters announced that military drones were being diverted from Africa Command, Pacific Command and Southern Command for Central Command, which covers the Middle East, Central Asia and Afghanistan and Pakistan. Walters also said that the Pentagon's drone fleet had grown from 200 in 2001 to 6,500 at the beginning of this year and will expand to 8,000 by 2012, an increase of twenty times in slightly over a decade.

This March legal advisor to the State Department Harold Koh justified the use of missile-wielding drones for killing human targets in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and Yemen as being "consistent with [the nation's] inherent right to self-defense under...international law."

The Pentagon's Quadrennial Defense Review of earlier this year confirmed that "The pilotless drones used for surveillance and attack missions in Afghanistan and Pakistan are a priority, with a goal of speeding up the purchase of new Reaper drones and expansion of Predator and Reaper drone flights through 2013."

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Rick Rozoff has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. Is the manager of the Stop NATO international email list at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stopnato/

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