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Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Yes Congress, Afghanistan is Your Vietnam, by Andrew J. Bacevich

Fortunately, there are a lot fewer dead in Afghanistan, among both the US military and the native population, than in Vietnam. That is the only positive thing you can say about the US’s engagement in Afghanistan. From Andrew J. Bacevich at theamericanconservative.com:

Does any member have the courage and vision to take responsibility?

20th Century “Angel of Mercy.” D. R. Howe (Glencoe, MN) treats the wounds of Private First Class D. A. Crum (New Brighton, PA), “H” Company, 2nd Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment, during Operation Hue City, Vietnam, 1968. (Public Domain/USMC)

Just shy of fifty years ago on November 7, 1967, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by J. William Fulbright, Democrat of Arkansas, met in executive session to assess the progress of the ongoing Vietnam War. Secretary of State Dean Rusk was the sole witness invited to testify. Even today, the transcript of Rusk’s remarks and the subsequent exchange with committee members make for depressing reading.

Responding to questions that ranged from plaintive to hostile, Rusk gave no ground.  The Johnson administration was more than willing to end the war, he insisted; the North Vietnamese government was refusing to do so. The blame lay with Hanoi. Therefore the United States had no alternative but to persist. American credibility was on the line.

By extension, so too was the entire strategy of deterring Communist aggression. The stakes in South Vietnam extended well beyond the fate of that one country, as senators well knew. In that regard, Rusk reminded members of the committee, the Congress had “performed its function…when the key decisions were made”—an allusion to the Tonkin Gulf Resolution,  a de facto declaration of war passed with near unanimous congressional support. None too subtly, Rusk was letting members of the committee know that the war was theirs as much as it was the administration’s.

Yet Fulbright and his colleagues showed little inclination to accept ownership. As a result, the back-and-forth between Rusk and his interrogators produced little of value. Rather than illuminating the problem of a war gone badly awry and identifying potential solutions, the event became an exercise in venting frustration. This exchange initiated by Senator Frank Lausche, Democrat from Ohio, captures the overall tone of the proceedings.

Senator Lausche:  “The debate about what our course in Vietnam should be has now been in progress since the Tonkin Bay resolution. When was that, August 1964?

Senator Wayne Morse (D-Ore.):  “Long before that.”

Senator Albert Gore, Sr. (D-Tenn.):  “Long before that.”

Senator Fulbright:  “Oh, yes, but that was the Tonkin Bay.”

Senator Lausche:  “For three years we have been arguing it, arguing for what purpose? Has it been to repeal the Tonkin Bay resolution? Has it been to establish justification for pulling out? In the three years, how many times has the Secretary appeared before us?

To continue reading: Yes Congress, Afghanistan is Your Vietnam 

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US Generals Want to Extend Our Longest War, by Eric Margolis

The US needs to take a page from the old Soviet Union’s book and get the hell out of Afghanistan. From Eric Margolis at lewrockwell.com:

Media reports claim President Donald Trump let loose on his generals behind closed doors, blasting them royally for their startling failures in Afghanistan, America’s longest war.

The president has many faults and is a lousy judge of character.  But he was absolutely right to read the riot act to the military brass for daring to ask for a very large troop and budget increase for the stalemated Afghan War that has cost $1 trillion to date.

Of course, the unfortunate generals are not really to blame.  They have been forced by the last three presidents to fight a pointless war at the top of the world that lacks any strategy, reason or purpose – and with limited forces.   But they can’t admit defeat by lightly-armed Muslim tribesmen.

The truth is, simply, that America blundered into the Afghan War under President George W. Bush who needed a target for revenge after the humiliating 9/11 attacks. Instead of blaming Saudi Arabia, a US protectorate which was clearly involved in the attacks, Bush went after remote but strategic Afghanistan and cooked up the Osama bin Laden bogeyman story.

Sixteen years later, the US is still chasing shadows in the Hindu Kush Mountains, rightly known to history as ‘Graveyard of Empires.’

The US invasion of Afghanistan was based on the unproven claim that anti-communist fighter Osama bin Laden was responsible for the 9/11 attacks.  We have yet to see conclusive proof.  What we have seen are phony documents and faked videos put out by bin Laden’s foes, the Afghan communists and their Northern Alliance drug-dealing allies.

To continue reading: US Generals Want to Extend Our Longest War

On Afghanistan, Trump Is Right To Be Skeptical, by William J. Astore

Now why would President Trump be skeptical of the longest running war in American history, a war that has left the country in which it was waged in worse shape than when the war began? From William J. Astore at antiwar.com:

NBC news reports that President Trump is skeptical about the U.S. military’s prospects in Afghanistan. The military is losing, not winning, Trump said, and he further suggested the US commander on the scene should be fired. Meanwhile, China is cleaning up with mineral rights (such as copper mining), even as America’s generals continue with a “stay the course” policy, a policy that’s led to sixteen years of “stalemate” (the US military’s word) at a cost of roughly a trillion dollars.

I highly recommend reading the NBC article for at least two reasons. First, Trump is right to question his advisers’ stale advice. He’s right to question the generals. Indeed, that’s his job as president and commander-in-chief. If sixteen years of effort and a trillion dollars has produced “stalemate” (at best) in Afghanistan, can one blame the president for seeking a new strategy? Perhaps even a withdrawal?

Second, and most interesting, is the push-back from NBC News and its hired guns: the retired generals and admirals who work for NBC as “consultants.” Let’s look closely at their comments.

Retired Admiral James Stavridis, a former head of NATO and an NBC News analyst, basically blames the Trump administration, not the military, for the Afghan stalemate. In his words:

“The situation in Afghanistan is not improving, but I think it’s hardly irretrievable at this point, and what the president needs to be doing is deciding on the strategy.”

“What is hurting the process at the moment is this back and forth about do we stay or do we go, how many troops,” he added. “Any commander is going to be incredibly handicapped in an environment like that. So I think the fundamental problem here is lack of decisiveness in Washington, specifically in the White House.”

To continue reading: On Afghanistan, Trump Is Right To Be Skeptical

 

The Most Underreported World Stories So Far This Year, by Chuck Baldwin

These stories are important and for the most part, they aren’t getting mentioned in either the mainstream or the alternative media (SLL has missed two out of the five cited). From Chuck Baldwin at lewrockwell.com:

Watch the various television and cable news shows, and one will be exposed to multiple reports of–the exact same story. Day after day, night after night: the national mainstream news media regurgitates the same news stories to the American people. It’s the same song sung by a different singer; but it’s the same song. If you don’t believe that, start channel surfing the newscasts instead of watching just one network. You will hear the same stories repeated over and over again by all of the different newscasters. Wake up, folks! You are being programmed and propagandized.

I have repeatedly said: the real problem with America’s news media (and churches) is not what you are being told; it is what you are NOT being told. The most important stories that the American people need to know about are hardly ever mentioned. And it doesn’t matter whether the broadcaster or network is bent leftward or rightward: the media moguls who run ALL OF THEM belong to the same club.

Here are just a few examples of some very important stories that you’ve heard barely a peep about from the Western mainstream media–or from the vast majority of independent media outlets, for that matter.

1)  The world’s biggest humanitarian crisis since World War II

One would think that a humanitarian crisis the size of this one would be plastered all over the front pages of U.S. newspapers and would be the lead story on dozens of nightly news casts. NADA. The vast majority of the American people are completely oblivious to the greatest humanitarian crisis since World War II. I’m talking about the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

According to international relief agencies, two-thirds of the people in Yemen are dying slow, gruesome deaths from starvation and famine. In the surrounding region, more than 20 million people are affected. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported in July that over 1,700 Yemenis died from cholera. The organization warned that over 300,000 could be diseased from the outbreak by the end of this month. This is a humanitarian crisis unparalleled in modern times. Yet hardly anyone in the West is even aware of it.

To continue reading: The Most Underreported World Stories So Far This Year

 

McMaster And Mattis Have Twelve Months To Succeed In Afghanistan, by James Durso

It appears that President Trump may not be on board the military’s “generational war” in Afghanistan. From James Durso at realcleardefense.com:

Recently we learned that Erik Prince, founder of the security firm Blackwater Worldwide, and Steve Feinberg, financier, and owner of DynCorp International, a leading military logistics, and training contractor, approached the Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis, with their plan to use contractors instead of American troops to stabilize Afghanistan. The meeting was arranged at the behest of President Trump’s advisors who want to ensure their boss is apprised of the full range of options in Afghanistan.

The Secretary decided to stick with an in-house solution, that is to say, more of the same, for a war we are, in his words, “not winning.” Secretary Mattis is no enemy of contractors, but hopefully, he reflected on what Messrs. Prince and Feinberg said before he briefed President Trump last week on the way ahead in Afghanistan.

Let’s review our progress in Afghanistan:

  • Provinces under central government control: according to data from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, “the Afghan government controls or influences just 52 percent of the nation’s districts today [February 2017] compared to 72 percent in November 2015.”
  • Opium production increased 43% from 2015 to 2016 and has been on an upward trend since 2001.
  • U.S. casualties: 2385 dead and 20,290 wounded military; 1691 dead contractors.
  • Money spent: over $700 billion, though some analysts say the true cost is in the trillions. 

I previously said we should let the Afghans and the neighbors – Iran, Pakistan, and China – try to sort it out, and minimize our work with Afghanistan to counternarcotics and intelligence sharing while we work with the Central Asian states to secure their borders. During the campaign, candidate Trump described the war in Afghanistan as “a complete waste” and has focused his efforts since inauguration on everything else, leaving the policy review to the national security advisor, Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, which brings us to the problem…

General McMaster spent several months trying to convince the President to commit more troops and agree to a four-year timeline in advance of May’s NATO summit meeting; he was blocked by the secretaries of Defense and State.  McMaster then made a second try at last week’s National Security Council Principals Committee, only to get pushback from Trump. Seen in that light, the suggestion that the White House would consider the Prince-Feinberg plan was a billboard-sized hint that the President does not want a more-of-the-same solution.

To continue reading: McMaster And Mattis Have Twelve Months To Succeed In Afghanistan

Pitching the ‘Forever War’ in Afghanistan, by James W. Carden

The pending “generational war” in Afghanistan may become the “forever war.” From James W. Carden at consortiumnews.com:

Exclusive: Rather than rethink U.S. policy in the Mideast, particularly the entangling alliances with Israel and Saudi Arabia, Official Washington pushes schemes to perpetuate the “forever war” in Afghanistan, writes James W Carden.

In May, the founder of the mercenary-for-hire group Blackwater (now since remained Academi), Erik Prince took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to propose that the Pentagon employ “private military units” and appoint a “viceroy” to oversee the war in Afghanistan.

U.S. Marines leaving a compound at night in Afghanistan’s Helmand province. (Defense Department photo)

According to Prince, who has been actively lobbying for what he calls an “East India Company approach” as the solution to America’s longest war (16 years, $117 billion and counting), “In Afghanistan, the viceroy approach would reduce rampant fraud by focusing spending on initiatives that further the central strategy, rather than handing cash to every outstretched hand from a U.S. system bereft of institutional memory.” (Prince naturally failed to say if his were among those “outstretched hands”)

On July 10, The New York Times reported that Prince and the owner of the military contractor Dyn Corporation, Stephen Feinberg, have, at the request of Stephen K. Bannon and Jared Kushner, been pushing a plan to, in effect, privatize the war effort in Afghanistan. (In recent weeks both The Nation and The American Conservativehave published deep-dive investigative pieces into the behind the scenes machinations of would-be Viceroys Prince and Feinberg).

According to the Times report “The strategy has been called ‘the Laos option,’ after America’s shadowy involvement in Laos during the war in neighboring Vietnam.”

If so, then “the Laos option” is an unfortunate moniker for their strategy given the fact that the during America’s war over Laos (1964-73) the U.S. dropped 2.5 million tons of munitions on that country as part of the failed effort in Vietnam, which finally ended when the U.S. embassy in Saigon was evacuated in 1975.

It is worth mentioning, since we so often overlook the “collateral damage” caused by our overseas adventures, that in the 40-plus years since the cessation of operations in Laos that 20,000 Laotians have been killed by unexploded ordinance dropped that had been dropped during that illegal nine-year campaign.

And while Prince and Feinberg have (so far anyway) gotten the cold shoulder from National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and Pentagon Chief James Mattis, momentum is picking up for once again ramping up American involvement in Afghanistan among some of the (allegedly) more sophisticated members of the foreign policy establishment.

To continue reading: Pitching the ‘Forever War’ in Afghanistan

Washington’s Good Terrorists, Bad Terrorists Policy in Middle East, by Nauman SADIQ

The only difference between “good” terrorists and “bad” terrorists is that the former are used by Washington for its political and military goals, while the latter are not. However, they are both usually Islamic extremists who kill innocent people for their own political and military goals. From Nauman SADIQ at orientalreview.org:

Karl Marx famously said that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce. The only difference between the Afghan jihad back in the ‘80s that spawned Islamic jihadists like the Taliban and al Qaeda for the first time in history and the Libyan and Syrian civil wars, 2011-onward, is that the Afghan jihad was an overt jihad: back then, the Western political establishments and their mouthpiece, the mainstream media, used to openly brag that the CIA provides all those AK-47s, RPGs and stingers to the Afghan so-called “freedom fighters” to combat the Soviet troops in Afghanistan.

A page of British The Independent newspaper, issued Dec 6, 1993

After the 9/11 tragedy, however, the Western political establishments and corporate media have become a lot more circumspect, therefore this time around, they have waged covert jihads against the Arab-nationalist Gaddafi regime in Libya and Assad regime in Syria, in which Islamic jihadists (aka terrorists) have been sold as “moderate rebels” with secular and nationalist ambitions to the Western audience.

Since the regime change objective in those hapless countries went against the mainstream narrative of ostensibly fighting a war against terrorism, therefore the Western political establishments and the corporate media are now trying to muddle the reality by offering color-coded schemes to identify myriads of militant and terrorist outfits that are operating in Syria: such as the red militants of the Islamic State and al-Nusra Front, which the Western powers want to eliminate; the yellow Islamic jihadists, like Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham, with whom the Western powers can collaborate under desperate circumstances; and the green militants of the Free Syria Army (FSA) and a few other inconsequential outfits, which together comprise the so-called “moderate” Syrian opposition.

If we were to draw parallels between the Soviet-Afghan jihad of the ‘80s and the Syrian civil war of today, the Western powers used the training camps located in the Af-Pak border regions to train and arm Afghan “Mujahideen” against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan.

Similarly, the training camps located in the border regions of Turkey and Jordan are being used to provide training and weapons to Sunni Arab militants to battle the Shi’a-dominated Syrian regime with the collaboration of Turkish, Jordanian and Saudi intelligence agencies.

To continue reading: Washington’s Good Terrorists, Bad Terrorists Policy in Middle East

 

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