Obama Vows to Finish Job; Heroin Trade Thrives; Afghanistan, Inc.?

In the midst of the state visit to Washington of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, President Barack Obama at a brief news conference announced that he was going to “finish the job” in Afghanistan. He cautioned, however, that down the road, Afghanistan would have to provide for its own security.

As for the strong divide in the US public over the Afghanistan War, Obama said, “I feel confident that when the American people hear a clear rationale for what we’re doing there and how we intend to achieve our goals, that they will be supportive.” Rumors in Washington, broken by McClatchy on Monday, say that Obama with send 34,000 additional troops and will announce the move next Tuesday.

Prime Minister Singh had the day before pressured Obama to stay the course in Afghanistan, warning that a Taliban victory had the potential for destabilizing Pakistan and India.

Whether Obama can ‘finish the job’ in Afghanistan depends on what he defines the job as. If it is to build a 21st century Afghan state and crush the Taliban and other Muslim political movements in the Pashtun areas, then I am extremely skeptical. If it is to prop up a shaky but just all right Afghan government and military before pulling out, then his odds of success, while still bad, do rise.

As for Obama’s hope that the US public will rally around the flag, I wouldn’t count on it over the medium to long term. His Democratic base is tired of war and of our quasi-martial-law state of siege. If he wants their support, he has to fight an extremely abbreviated war.

So I think it is entirely possible that Obama will be 0 for 2 if he escalates in Afghanistan. And it is extremely dangerous for him to go on alienating his base, which wants peace and prosperity, with policies that make rightwing Republicans happy– coddling bankers in a jobless recovery and an escalation of an eight-year-old, increasingly unpopular war. The rightwing Republicans will vote for these measures in Congress, but put the blame on Obama for them, and benefit from Democratic disillusionment in 2012.

Gareth Porter reports that the real turn-over rate in the Afghanistan National Army is 25%, a datum obscured by the way the Pentagon changed its reporting criteria in midstream this year. Mandy Clark of CBS also reports on the challenges the US faces in training an Afghan national army.

Twelve of President Hamid Karzai’s cabinet ministers are under investigation for corruption.

The Russian news service Itar-Tass reports on November 24 from Bishkek on a presentation by Mikhail Melikhov on Afghanistan at a conference on international terrorism and extremism. (The article appears to still be behind a firewall at the I-T site).

Melikhov alleged that the drug trade in Afghanistan is now worth $4 billion annually. (The gross domestic product of Afghanistan in exchange-rate terms is only only about $12 bn. per annum, so drugs account for about 1/3).

He said that during the past seven years, drug output in Afghanistan has grown 40 times over, now standing at 7,700 tons a year.

Melikhov is quoted as saying, “Practically Afghanistan has become an international drug firm.”

He said the drug trade is largely in the hands of trans-national narco-terrorist cartels. He maintains that Muslim extremist organizations, including the ‘Islamic Movement of Turkestan’ and Hizb al-Tahrir (the Party of Liberation), are the primary drug exporters.

End/ (Not Continued)

13 Responses

  1. IMHO, Obama will "escalate", but with a short time frame for an exit. This is the best solution possible.

    Having few troops is the worst possible strategy. Your chances of getting things done are even lower, but you still spend the blood and treasure, and remain firmly stuck into the quagmire.

  2. "finish the job" Did the weak leader also say what the "job" is that he is going to finish? The weak leader is very very disappointing. Obama has bowed not only to the Chinese leader, but to the extreme right who wants US troops deployed in many Muslim countries for no logical reason.

  3. Of course, as has been said many times, Afghanistan is not currently a nation– and perhaps not even a proto-nation. Therefore it should not be expected to behave as a nation. Afghanistan is a collection of ethnocentric, religionistic tribes. To become a nation, its population would have to give up its tribalism and identify with the larger concept of nation. Where is the evidence that such a transition is taking place? Where is the evidence that the US Military can manufacture such a transition? Europe took centuries to accomplish such change. What is the chance that Afghanistan will flip in time to save Obama’s ass in the 2012 election?

  4. 0 for 3. The bungle of he "economic recovery". More troops to Afghanistan. Continuation of Bush level human rights violations, both national and international. However, unlike baseball that has immediate repercussions, as President he can remain at bat and acumulate strikes until the next election.

  5. He has already lost me on Afghanistan. We have no purpose there, and I am utterly fed up with listening to the dire threat from Al Queda, which isn't even in Afghanistan.

    He will add to the deficit to bail out banks, he will add to the deficit to bail out corporations, he will add to the deficit for war, but he will veto health care reform if it "adds one dollar to the deficit."

    I campaigned for him, I voted for him, but he is losing me.

  6. Why is it that we expect a trained Afghanistan army (or Iraqi army) to have the same objectives and enemy set that the US forces have?

    Just as in this country, the military will do the bidding of whoever is in charge (especially here since "congressional declarations of war" have gone the way of the buggy whip).

    The notion that Obama can convince the public of the need to "finish the job" by giving a good speech is an act of patronizing contempt toward the public. Its Saturday Night Live and Daily Show material.

    If India is worried about a Taliban disruption of their huge and prospering nation, then let them assume the role we now have. If the Taliban doughs start up the Potomac and Hudson, the National Guard will make mincemeat out of them.

  7. The disgrace of having the Prime Minister of India pushing America to a forever war for the purposes of satisfying Indian prejudice should not be forgotten. This is no longer the India of Gandhi.

    I have always been a Democrat but I will not be forgiving Democrats or President Obama for this war. I may even vote Republican simply to be rid of these Democrats, but I surely will not be voting for Democrats for quite a while.

  8. «The Western workingman has been asked to share the spoils of exploiting [Muslim peoples]. It is no longer simply the merchant prince, or the aristocratic monopoly, or even the employing class, that is exploiting the world: It is the nation; a new democratic nation composed of united labour and capital.»W.E.B. DuBois (May, 1915) «American capitalism needs an international rivalry ~ and periodic war ~ to create an international community of interest between rich and poor. In the midst of severe recession, President [Barack Obama], who had promised that the U.S. would [unwind the foreign occupations and domestic war economy], would find a way to serve the needs of American capital as well as the Allies' imperialism.»

  9. Obama is making his announcement at West Point on Tuesday. Why does he feel he has to surround himself with "friendlies" to justify this disastrous escalation? What about all the people without jobs, without homes, without food who are paying for this horrible war? Why doesn't he put himself among them to announce it?

    Has he become so "embubbled" by layers of staffers and experts that he can't see what's happening out there?

    Whatever the question is, the military solution is not the answer.

  10. Those of us who remember Viet Nam know that escalation is not a one-time thing. What will Obama do in a few months when the next demand is made? In for a dime, in for a dollar?

  11. What form of support is Prime Minister Singh offering in Afghanistan, troops, money, social workers, construction workers, anything?

  12. Seems to be that Obama is bringing back Sept 11th to the public. That's the only way he can swing public support for the War back to his administration. Take this Federal trial for KSM (Khalid Sheikh Mohammed: The national press is going to be all over it. KSM is going to remind all of us what we're doing in Afghanistan.

  13. "So I think it is entirely possible that Obama will be 0 for 2 if he escalates in Afghanistan. And it is extremely dangerous for him to go on alienating his base, which wants peace and prosperity, with policies that make rightwing Republicans happy– coddling bankers in a jobless recovery and an escalation of an eight-year-old, increasingly unpopular war. The rightwing Republicans will vote for these measures in Congress, but put the blame on Obama for them, and benefit from Democratic disillusionment in 2012". The term in football is "four and out".

Comments are closed.