Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Is Our Political Class Mentally Ill? by Justin Raimondo

SLL thinks the title question answers itself, but Justin Raimondo gives a more detailed explanation. From Raimondo at antiwar.com:

Sadistic commentators hail death and destruction

I write this on Easter Sunday, the day of resurrection and hope in the Christian calendar, but such a bright promise looks a bit thin given what is going on in our world, our country: what looks like a mass outbreak of mental illness among our political class.

I say this because here is a group of people – journalists, politicians, and other Very Serious Persons – who have hated our new President from the get-go. He’s Hitler, he’s Mussolini, he’s Pepe the frog! He’s this, he’s that, he’s Our National Nightmare! And yet the minute he starts bombing foreigners he’s suddenly not so bad after all. Over at the Washington Post, David Ignatius, the CIA’s journalistic front man, says he’s “becoming a credible foreign policy leader.” Ruth Marcus opines that we’re witnessing “the normalization of Donald Trump.” Finally, she enthuses, “rationality is dawning” on the forty-fifth President! Among the liberal elite, the hosannas were well nigh universal. As Ann Coulter noted:

“Cable news hosts gushed, ‘Trump became president of the United States tonight!’ On MSNBC, Brian Williams called the bombing ‘beautiful’ three times in less than a minute. Sen. Lindsey Graham (one of the ‘women of the Senate,’ according to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg) compared Trump to Reagan. The New York Times headlined an article, ‘On Syria Attack, Trump’s Heart Came First.’”

Fareed Zakaria’s joy over the bombing seemed to indicate that, for him, it was practically an erotic experience. And this weird bloodlust wasn’t limited to the liberal precincts of the commentariat – far from it. When we dropped the MOAB on Afghanistan, Kimberly Guilfoyle practically had an orgasm over at Fox News. Sitting there in her low cut red dress, her breasts heaving with passion, her lips parted, and an ecstatic smile plastered on her heavily made-up face, she hailed the bombing as if it were the climax – so to speak – of a pornographic movie: “America is back!” Oh, yeeeesssss!!!!

To continue reading: Is Our Political Class Mentally Ill?

 

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Losing a War One Bad Metaphor at a Time, by William J. Astore

The US has been in Afghanistan for 16 years. The country is in far worse shape than when the US invaded, and there’s no end in sight to America’s longest war. From William J. Astore at tomdispatch.com:

America’s war in Afghanistan is now in its 16th year, the longest foreign war in our history. The phrase “no end in sight” barely covers the situation. Prospects of victory — if victory is defined as eliminating that country as a haven for Islamist terrorists while creating a representative government in Kabul — are arguably more tenuous today than at any point since the U.S. military invaded in 2001 and routed the Taliban. Such “progress” has, over the years, invariably proven “fragile” and “reversible,” to use the weasel words of General David Petraeus who oversaw the Afghan “surge” of 2010-2011 under President Obama. To cite just one recent data point: the Taliban now controls 15% more territory than it did in 2015.

That statistic came up in recent Senate testimony by the U.S. commanding general in Afghanistan, John “Mick” Nicholson Jr., who is (to give no-end-in-sight further context) the 12th U.S. commander since the war began. Appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, he called for several thousand more U.S. troops to break what he optimistically described as a “stalemate.” Those troops would, he added, serve mainly as advisers and trainers to Afghan forces, facilitating what he labeled “hold-fight-disrupt” operations.

As to how long they would be needed, the general was vague indeed. He spoke of the necessity of sustaining “an enduring counter-terrorism (CT) platform” in Afghanistan to bottle up terrorist forces, so they wouldn’t, as he put it, hit us in the “homeland.” Indeed, the U.S. military considers what it has begun to speak of as a “generational” war in that country “successful” because no major attacks on the United States have had their roots in Afghanistan since September 11, 2001. And that certainly qualifies as one of the stranger definitions of success in a perpetual war that lacks a sound strategy.

To continue reading: Losing a War One Bad Metaphor at a Time

$8.5 Billion U.S. Counter Narcotics Effort in Afghanistan Boosts Opium Production, by Judicial Watch

The War on Drugs in Afghanistan has been a spectacular and corrupt failure, which means it’s due a big budget increase and more personnel. From judicialwatch.org’s blog:

The U.S. government’s multi-billion-dollar effort to counter narcotics in Afghanistan is a humiliating failure that’s resulted in a huge increase in poppy cultivation and opium production. Despite the free-flow of American tax dollars to combat the crisis, opium production rose 43% in the Islamic nation, to an estimated 4,800 tons, and approximately 201,000 hectares of land are under poppy cultivation, representing a 10% increase in one year alone.

Uncle Sam’s embarrassing counter narcotics effort is part of a broader and costly failure involving the reconstruction of Afghanistan. More than $100 billion have been dedicated to help rebuild the war-torn country and much of it has been lost to waste, fraud and abuse not to mention corruption. The drug initiative is a recent example, documented by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) in a quarterly report to Congress. The document is painful to read because it goes on for 269 pages, but Judicial Watch created a link for the counter narcotics section, which is around 19 pages and includes informative charts, graphs and the latest available statistics.

As of December 31, 2016, the United States has spent an astounding $8.5 billion for counter narcotics efforts in Afghanistan since 2002, the report reveals, making it clear that the cash will continue flowing. “Nonetheless, Afghanistan remains the world’s leading producer of opium, providing 80% of the global output over the past decade, according to the United Nations,” SIGAR writes. The watchdog includes statistics from the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) confirming a 10% increase in the amount of Afghan land that was under poppy cultivation between 2015 and 2016. Despite Uncle Sam’s generosity, poppy eradiation results were the lowest this decade, the watchdog states. “No eradication took place in the biggest opium-growing provinces because of the grave security situation,” the report reveals, noting a steady rise in production and cultivation in the past decade. “Eradication efforts have had minimal impact on the rise in illicit opium cultivation.”

To continue reading: $8.5 Billion U.S. Counter Narcotics Effort in Afghanistan Boosts Opium Production

 

Afghan Ghost Soldiers Cost US Taxpayers Hundreds of Millions of Dollars Annually, by Jason Ditz

News from the Afghanistan outpost of US government waste and corruption. From Jason Ditz at antiwar.com:

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko is once again warning about the long-standing problems of corruption in Afghanistan, and the amount of US “reconstruction aid” disappearing down black holes over the course of the years. As always, the discussion came around to “ghost soldiers.”

Ghost soldiers are a phenomenon in which Afghan military commanders fill their ranks with fictional names and just keep the salaries, which since the salaries are paid pretty much exclusively by NATO and overwhelmingly by the US, has been a known tactic that the Afghan government has done nothing to prevent.

Sopko warned that the “ghost soldier” problem has expanded to include fictional police, teachers, and other government officials, and that all told the US taxpayers are paying the salaries of “tens of thousands” of Afghans who don’t actually exist, and will likely be doing so for years, potentially decades to come. Though exact figures are impossible to know, SIGAR said some $300 million in salaries are paid to “unverified” employees.

Individual Afghan government employee salaries are pretty small, particularly for military recruits, which has been a big reason the nation has struggled to fill the ranks with actual people. That commanders can pocket the difference just adds to the incentive to make up names and “pay” them.

This is a big reason why the Afghan military has struggled so mightily in fights with the Taliban as well, as their statistics on how many troops they have defending any given checkpoint or important city are wildly inaccurate, and they can find that the Taliban forces they thought they handily outnumbered are actually in a position to seize territory.

http://news.antiwar.com/2017/01/11/inspector-general-us-taxpayers-pay-for-tens-of-thousands-of-afghan-ghost-soldiers/

Will Obama’s ‘Good War’ in Afghanistan Continue? by Ron Paul

Donald Trump will supply the answer to the title question. From Ron Paul at ronpaulinstitute.org:

Last week, as the mainstream media continued to obsess over the CIA’s evidence-free claim that the Russians hacked the presidential election, President Obama quietly sent 300 US Marines back into Afghanistan’s Helmand Province. This is the first time in three years that the US military has been sent into that conflict zone, and it represents a final failure of Obama’s Afghanistan policy. The outgoing president promised that by the end of his second term, the US military would only be present in small numbers and only on embassy duty. But more than 8,000 US troops will remain in Afghanistan as he leaves office.

When President Obama was first elected he swore that he would end the US presence in Iraq (the “bad” war) and increase US presence in Afghanistan (the “good” war). He ended up increasing troops to both wars, while the situation in each country continued to deteriorate.

Why are the Marines needed in the Helmand Province? Because although the foolish and counterproductive 15-year US war in Afghanistan was long ago lost, Washington cannot face this fact. Last year the Taliban controlled 20 percent of the province. This year they control 85 percent of the province. So billions more must be spent and many more lives will be lost.

Will these 300 Marines somehow achieve what the 2011 peak of 100,000 US soldiers was not able to achieve? Will this last push “win” the war? Hardly! The more the president orders military action in Iraq and Afghanistan, the worse it gets. In 2016, for example, President Obama dropped 1,337 bombs on Afghanistan, a 40 percent increase from 2015. According to the United Nations, in 2016 there were 2,562 conflict-related civilian deaths and 5,835 injuries. And the Taliban continues to score victories over the Afghan puppet government.

To continue reading: Will Obama’s ‘Good War’ in Afghanistan Continue?

Obama’s Deadly Afghan Acquiescence, by Ray McGovern

Obama was warned Afghanistan was a quagmire. Obama knew Afghanistan was a quagmire, but he stayed there and doubled up, primarily due to a lack of intestinal fortitude. From Ray McGovern at antiwar.com:

Occasionally a New York Times writer like Mark Landler will be permitted to step up to the plate and write a sensible article about President “No Guts Obama” and how he caved in to folks whom he lacked the political courage to cross.

Landler’s Jan. 1 article shows, among other things, how Obama’s bowing to heavyweights like Gen. David Petraeus, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ended up getting thousands of people killed and prolonging the fool’s-errand Afghan war.

The pity, of course, is that Landler’s piece, “The Afghan War and the Evolution of Obama,” comes eight years too late. There is a lot of numbness out there today about how we were all had by “NGO,” together with attempts to blame bad decisions on his benighted advisers. But you know where the buck is supposed to stop. And a number of us, including Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), spared no effort to get through to him in “real time.”

I can understand that some of you will not want to risk being further depressed. Others, however, may wish to be reminded of our efforts to warn President Obama before he let himself be conned into doubling down on the Afghan folly. Those others may want to skim through the re-runs (linked below) of early warnings in March 2009 and January 2010, together with some retrospective comments.

On March 28, 2009, as Obama was beginning his plunge into the Afghan War swamp, I wrote an articled entitled, “Welcome to Vietnam, Mr. President,” which Consortiumnews.com republished last year with the intro: “With still no end in sight for the Afghan War, President Obama can’t say he wasn’t warned. Barely two months into his presidency in 2009, ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern welcomed Obama to his own Vietnam quagmire.”

To continue reading: Obama’s Deadly Afghan Acquiescence

Trump’s National Security Adviser Facilitated the Murder of Civilians in Afghanistan, by Gareth Porter

The media has not paid attention to Donald Trump’s national security advisor Lt. Gen. Michael J. Flynn’s record in Afghanistan. From Gareth Porter at antiwar.com:

After retired Lt. Gen. Michael J. Flynn spoke at the Republican National Convention, The Washington Post captured the prevailing media view of Flynn in the headline: “He was one of the most respected intel officers of his generation. Now he’s leading ‘Lock her up’ chants.”

Now that President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Flynn as his national security adviser, media coverage has given prominence to the more serious issue of Flynn’s denunciation of Islam as a “cancer” and other manifestations of his embrace of Islamophobia. But the mainstream media view of Flynn’s military record ignores his pivotal role in devising a targeting scheme that was the basis for an indiscriminate Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) campaign of killing and incarcerating Afghans suspected of being in the Taliban insurgency. The corporate media, which have never examined that dark chapter in the history of the Afghanistan war critically, have long treated the campaign as one of the few success stories of the war.

But as an investigation published by Truthout in 2011 revealed, the target list that JSOC used for its “night raids” and other operations to kill supposed Taliban was based on a fundamentally flawed methodology that was inherently incapable of distinguishing between Taliban insurgents and civilians who had only tangential contacts with the Taliban organization. And it was Flynn who devised that methodology.

To continue reading: Trump’s National Security Adviser Facilitated the Murder of Civilians in Afghanistan