Tag Archives: Opium

Time to Admit the Afghan War is ‘Nonsense’, by Jonathan Marshall

After 17 years in Afghanistan, with Taliban control of territory and opium poppy production at record highs, it’s time for the US government to rethink that military commitment. From Jonathan Marshall at consortiumnews.com:

Exclusive: Officially, the U.S. military objective in Afghanistan is to force the Taliban to the negotiating table, but just last month President Trump said that talks with the Taliban are off the table, indicating an incoherent policy, as Jonathan Marshall notes.

Whatever happened to the Donald Trump who tweeted in 2013, “Let’s get out of Afghanistan … we waste billions there. Nonsense!”

Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter pilots fly near Jalalabad, Afghanistan, April 5, 2017. The pilots are assigned to the 7th Infantry Division’s Task Force, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade.The unit is preparing to support Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and Resolute Support. (Army photo by Capt. Brian Harris)

And whatever happened to the reality TV star who used to tell under-performers, “you’re fired”?

Today, as commander in chief, President Trump is indefinitely extending the Afghan war’s record as the longest in U.S. history. He’s wasting $45 billion to wage it this year alone. And he’s not even thinking of firing his huckster generals who claim that sending a few thousand more troops and stepping up the bombing will be a “game changer.”

Much like the Vietnam War, every day’s news of war from Afghanistan puts the lie to optimistic claims of a military solution. A recent BBC study concluded that Taliban forces are now active in 70 percent of the country, more than at any time since the end of 2001. Unofficial U.S. estimates of their strength have soared from about 20,000 in 2014 to at least 60,000 today.

Afghan government forces number several times as many, but—like their counterparts in the Vietnam War—they “lack the one thing the U.S. cannot provide: the will to fight a protracted campaign against a committed enemy,” in the words of Bill Roggio, editor of the Long War Journal at the hawkish Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

The Taliban have proven that no place in Afghanistan is safe from their long arm. At the beginning of February, they infiltrated a bomb-laden ambulance into Kabul, just blocks from a meeting at the Afghan Ministry of Defense with the head of the U.S. Central Command. Its blast killed more than 100 people and injured 235. It followed only days after Taliban gunmen stormed the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, killing at least 20 people, including four Americans.

 

To continue reading: Time to Admit the Afghan War is ‘Nonsense’

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Into the Afghan Abyss (Again) How a Failed Drug War Will Defeat Trump’s Afghan Adventure, by Alfred W. McCoy

Afghanistan produced an estimated 185 tons of opium in 2001, when the US invaded. Production reached a record 8,200 tons (over 44 times as much) in 2008. In 2013 production was 5,500 tons. From Alfred W. McCoy at tomdispatch.com:

 

After nine months of confusion, chaos, and cascading tweets, Donald Trump’s White House has finally made one thing crystal clear: the U.S. is staying in Afghanistan to fight and — so they insist — win. “The killers need to know they have nowhere to hide, that no place is beyond the reach of American might,” said the president in August, trumpeting his virtual declaration of war on the Taliban. Overturning Barack Obama’s planned (and stalled) drawdown in Afghanistan, Secretary of Defense James Mattis announced that the Pentagon would send 4,000 more soldiers to fight there, bringing American troop strength to nearly 15,000.

In October, as that new mini-escalation was ramping up, the CIA leaked to the New York Times news of a complementary covert surge with lethal drone strikes and “highly experienced” Agency paramilitary teams being dispatched to “hunt and kill” Taliban guerrillas, both ordinary fighters and top officials. “This is unforgiving, relentless,” intoned CIA Director Mike Pompeo, promising a wave of extrajudicial killings reminiscent of the Agency’s notorious Phoenix Program during the Vietnam War. CIA paramilitary officers, reported the Times, will lead Special Forces operatives, both Afghan and American, in expanded counterterrorism operations that, in the past, “have been accused of indiscriminately killing Afghan civilians.” In short, it’s game on in Afghanistan.

After 16 years of continuous war in that country, the obvious question is: Does this new campaign have any realistic chance of success, no less victory? To answer that, another question must be asked: How has the Taliban managed to expand in recent years despite intensive U.S. operations and a massive air campaign, as well as the endless and endlessly expensive training of Afghan security forces? After all, the Afghan War is not only the longest in U.S. history, but also one of the largest, peaking at 101,000 American troops in country during President Obama’s surge of 2010-2011.

To continue reading: Into the Afghan Abyss (Again) How a Failed Drug War Will Defeat Trump’s Afghan Adventure