77 US troops Wounded in Truck Bombing of Base in Wardak; Top Reasons US should get out of Afghanistan

Never before in the Afghanistan War, the longest-running military conflict in US history, have so many US troops been wounded in one day. Some 5 Afghans were killed and some 77 American military personnel were wounded at a forward operating base in Wardak Province in the Pashtun south by a suicide bomber with a truck Note that Wardak is not that far from Kabul, the capital, but even at this distance the government is unable to provide security. Most of the US wounded were only lightly so.

This incident inevitably leads to thoughts about whether we shouldn’t try to speed up the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. Here are some of the top reasons the US should get out of of that country as soon as possible.

The US and NATO have come to be seen as armies of foreign occupation in some parts of the country, according to Turki al-Faisal, former head of Saudi intelligence, who says the old Taliban of Mullah Omar are no longer the main issue: “… it is becoming more of a nationalist resistance movement to the presence of foreign troops.”

Former radicals also maintain that Afghans are fighting the US/ NATO troop presence now, and would put down their arms if the foreigners left.

According to Robert Crews of Stanford University, the large US/NATO troop footprint in the country, along with the US-engineered overbearing presidency, which the US uses to try to control the country– all this contributes to fanning the flames of insurgency. That is, Washington thinks that the Taliban and other insurgents can be crushed by Western military force, but in fact that very foreign military presence creates a bigger and bigger insurgency.

The over-centralization of power in the hands of the president has created a virtually permanent crisis with parliament. Nine parliamentarians have just been expelled from parliament by the Independent Election Commission because of charges of electoral fraud. But the IEC is appointed by president Hamid Karzai and those expelled were his political opponents. Some 100 members of parliament are standing with those expelled, and the national legislature is likely to be paralyzed by the dispute for some time. Counter-insurgency requires a strong and capable partner, and the dysfunctional Afghan government does not appear to be it.

A decisive victory over the Afghanistan insurgents cannot be won as long as they have safe havens in the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) of northwest Pakistan. But Pakistan does not control much of this rugged and hostile region. Some Pakistani officers may sympathize with the Taliban or other insurgents holed up there. Since the Pakistani army cannot or will not move against these safe havens in a thoroughgoing way (despite some operations, as in South Waziristan), they will remain in place. The US cannot go in after them with American troops because Pakistan would not allow it. Drone strikes appear not to do the job decisively. Pakistan is a nuclear power with a population similar to that of Brazil, and it would be most unwise for the US to be on a war footing with it. Since the cross-border problem is insoluble, the Afghanistan War is ipso facto unwinnable.

With the killing of Usamah Bin Laden, Saudi Arabia is now more willing to support reconciliation talks between President Hamid Karzai and the Taliban. Likewise, the Taliban now seem to hint that the main obstacle to such talks is the big foreign military force in their country.

At least one in seven troops in the Afghanistan National Army deserted in the first six months of this year– coming to some 24,000. How the total army will be built to 200,000 in just three more years under these circumstances is hard to see. And, some of the deserters join the Taliban or other insurgents.

The Afghanistan National Army is regionally unrepresentative, since the southern and eastern Pashutns mostly decline to join. Thus, Qandahar, Helmand and other provinces in the south contribute very few troops to the national army. In part this result derives from Taliban threats to behead those Pashtuns who cooperate with the US government. But whatever the reason, you can’t have a national army that virtually lacks troops from such major provinces, and the imbalance will itself promote ethnic conflict.

12 Responses

  1. Here we have more evidence of the absurdity of US foreign policy. I never cease to be amazed how obviously very intelligent Americans can be so stupid regarding what is valid overseas. Especially since almost all of our stupid foreign policies would never be thought of regarding an action inside the US.

    I further suggest that it is irrelevant whether there are safe havens in the FATA areas of Pakistan. If Afghanistan was a free country, with a government that represented the people, instead of the dictatorship it now has, then the local people through the local police force would provide sufficient information to keep a guerilla force contained.

    • The brainwashing power of constant propaganda and fear of the consequences of not being seen to conform. Shut out the awkward facts using the filters carefully prepared for you, and shut down the brain. Easy to do IMO.

  2. This reminds me of a deep sea fishing trip in New England. One of the guys caught a small shark, put a cherry bomb in his mouth and let him go. The bomb exploded, and soon there were nothing but sharks being caught. He was having a ball blowing sharks up, but we finally shut him down, and moved away from the despoiled area. The captain took away his bombs, and it all went well.

    Where’s our captain?

  3. Please forgive a strong reaction to the following, it’s clear your personal preference is to get our troops out of Notagainistan: “A decisive victory over the Afghanistan insurgents cannot be won as long as they have safe havens in the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) of northwest Pakistan.” My concern is that standing alone, extracted from the text, it supports the bankrupt scam of the Present Administration.

    Is driving “insurgents” from the FATA seen as a condition precedent to “Victory,” or just one more reason why this is a fool’s errand? And what, since nobody else seems willing or able to define the term other than “We’ll know it when we see it” or “If you don’t know, then you are beneath notice,” just what the hell is “success,” or “victory” or “winning”? Last time I checked, there’s no way an imperial power can “win” an asymmetric war of this type and scope. All they have to do is wait the war-gamers out.

    Sure seems to me that “victory” in the Pentagram’s terms is most importantly defeating any effort to rein in infinite extraction of wealth from the US and any other Imperialized and subjugated nation, including the huge “income” from weapon sales to anyone, friend or potential or existing enemy, with the cash to buy.

    Since when is there the remotest possibility that the US military-industrialists (the apparently unhealable running sore currently hidden under the “NATO” Band-Aid) can achieve any kind of “decisive victory” over the multiple bits and pieces of Afghan resistance to the imposition of some kind of police-state “security” there? Is it really likely that the wishful-strategic-thinking, white-board notion of routing the ‘insurgents’ out of the FATA would in fact be any more effective in “destroying” or “defeating” resistance to American occupation and Kabul Kleptocracy than was the General’s notion of sending GIs between the dutting edges of the Parrot’s Beak, or dangling a new Fishhook?

    “Vietnamization” ain’t working, and while there may be a few new Capitalized Nouns and Acronymic Adjectives in the Pentagram’s Playbook this go-round, it sure seems to me that the Doctrine is as pre-defeated this time, over there in Notagainistan, as it was in 1964. Of course, like the last time, my bet is that the “Doctrine” of “creating security” (and Marching Forward to VICTORY!) is nothing more than window dressing and three shells with a pea under none of them, to put lipstick on the pig that is the insatiable procurement-logistics-waste-and-fraud monster that keeps these idiocies going.

    In the meantime: 30 dead GIs here, 5 over there, 13 wounded, wedding parties killed (oopsy, fog of war, nobody responsible or accountable), a bunch of apparently dunderheaded CIA guys and contractors blown up by what, a relative of one of the people killed by “errant” drone-launched missiles, and now 5 Afghans of unknown persuasion, and 77 GIs “wounded slightly,” all fodder for the idiot’s game of “we kill some of them so they kill some of us so we kill some of them so they kill some of us…” all because, you know, no death or wound can go unavenged? All while “we” are paying bribes to warlords and mullahs to get gasoline and diesel at $400 a gallon across the Khyber Pass and to wherever our Brass has decreed is the Active Face of this mine that collapses behind our troops as they dig?

  4. Seems to me that whether or not a fraction of the “enemy effectives” up there in the NE corner of Notagainistan can “hide” in the FATA, there’s no possible way to achieve “a decisive victory over the Afghan insurgents” who are by all reports, all over the landscape. Though our generals surely remember how to open a Parrot’s Beak or dangle a Fishhook, once again with the same result. There ain’t no way to “fight and win” an asymmetric imperial-invasion war any more.

    Support the troops, folks? Bring ‘em home, now. All of them. We’ve got levees and bridges that need reinforcement and repair, and lots of other stuff they could be doing that does not involve sowing dragons’ teeth and further warping our home culture.

    “Military victory” is a plain old oxymoron any more.

  5. These are all very good reasons for the U.S. to withdraw from Afghanistan, but none of them demonstrate that it is better to withdraw faster.

    I look at the example of Iraq, where the drawdown took place (is still taking place) over the course of four years. Just about all of the conditions Prof. Cole describes in Afghanistan were equally true in Iraq, and yet our slow withdrawal was accompanied by the progress – the political solutions, the insurgent groups turning from war to the political process – that we need to see in Afghanistan.

    Our withdrawal in Iraq was gradual and staged, but it has two other important features: it was visible (the withdrawal back to bases, removing the experience of occupation), and it was definite (the AUMF specifying a timeline and an end date).

    • Joe, I fail to see how you can’t see what is occurring in Iraq. All historical precedents (remember Vietnam’s “peace” agreement, by that incapable of a rational concept Kissenger?) indicate that “if” we ever leave that country will descend into a civil war.

      We never should have gone to Afghanistan, and never should have gone to Iraq. And every time a country does a never should have, it is only a matter of time before that country leaves with its tail between its legs. Think us in Vietnam, think the French in Egypt (read Prof. Cole’s book), think French in Vietnam and Algeria, think many a colonization experiment, think USSR in Afghanistan.

      People have to develop themselves to where they have the mind-set for democracy, which I propose happens inevitably, because it is the only natural form of government. Prior to that self-directed democracy mind-set, any attempt to “create” a democracy is doomed to fail.

      Let’s get smart and come home, from every country, every one of our 700 plus military bases; give up this nonsense that we are some world policeman, give up this nonsense that our foreign policy is reasonable to be used to significantly enhance our multi-national corporations profits, come home and start working on clearing up this huge mess we have at home; and once again become a beacon for the world in terms of successful and rewarding living.

      • Warren – the problem with your argument is that you don’t know that something is a “never should have done that” unless you “do that” first.

        Should we have never gone to Korea, should we have never gone to Europe in 1916 & 1941. Should the Pilgrims never have gone to Plymouth, settlers to Chesapeake Bay, Captain Cook to Botany Bay.

        There are the things that we never did, that perhaps we should have done – Rwanda ’94, Hungary ’56, and Iraq ’91.

      • In point of fact, Warren, the civil war dynamic in Iraq was exacerbated by our presence, and has been ameliorated by the withdrawal. The Sunni factions that were at war with the government and the Shiite militias have, over the course of this withdrawal, moved farther and farther from war, and more and more towards engagement in the political process. The level of violence dropped, and Sunni voting rates skyrocketed, over the course of our withdrawal.

        The Iraqi Civil War was an artificial, foreign-imposed construct, resulting from foreign forces (American and then jihadist) in the country. Remember, the foreign jihadists had to conduct a months-long campaign of escalating atrocities against the Shiites in order to provoke that civil war.

        Your treatment of it as something “natural,” as what would inevitably happen if that country were to “find its own way,” is deeply ahistorical, over both the sort- and long-term.

        Both the far left and the neocon right have been insisting that Iraq will collapse into violence if we withdraw. In the real world, exactly the opposite has happened.

        Your final three paragraphs have nothing to do with the dynamics of our exit from Iraq. They are simply a universal manifesto, a statement of principles detached from any objective facts about what is happening in Iraq, and I find the close observation of the particular facts of individual cases to be much more valuable in understanding those cases than the insistence – again, common to the neoconservatives and the far left – that only the proper ideological orientation towards military action in general is necessary to understand the world.

        Let me leave you with this: I opposed the invasion of Iraq from the very beginning. Understanding the reasons why we should not have gone is does not mean that withdrawing faster is better than withdrawing gradually. Yes, someone with a knife sticking out of them needs to have it removed. No, that does not mean that the proper course of action is to grab the handle and yank the blade out as quickly as possible.

      • I wonder about the assertion that democracy is the inevitable form of human government. In the narrow sense that revolutions happen when the kleptocrats over-reach too far, maybe some truth. But my little keyhole view of history and anthropology and sociology and even economics sure makes it look a lot more likely that the kleptocrats are a lot better at organizing and achieving hegemony and eventual dominance.

        Seems to me that we are kind of wired to be nobles and serfs/slaves; I know a lot of people who bow and scrape and defer out of instinct, and a very few who have that grasp of the jugular that marks the true Vampire Squid.

        “We,” under the rule and dictates of our “leaders,” are in no way (as far as I can tell) trying to “spread democracy.” Installing and supporting convenient dictators, undermining and overthrowing elected governments, spreading Imperial Troopers across the planet, operating from “policies” that are simply about “projecting power” and stealing resources and selling weapons and training state-security types across the whole planet to “make the world safe for Lockheed Martin and United Brands,” and proving over and over again that Smedley Butler, link to en.wikipedia.org, that honest fella so disingenuously defamed by “Bill” earlier as a mere disgruntled ex-employee, was absolutely right to call “War – nothing but a racket.” And this: link to warisacrime.org :That’s not spreading democracy. Hey, Bill, gonna give me an “F” this time too?

        And of course as Joseph Heller so wonderfully limned the reality in “Catch-22,” the profit-seeking and smug dominance of “corporate persons” drives all our “foreign policy,” with a few exceptions when a glimmer of decency and honesty happens to peek through.

        Could I change the frame a little? “We,” the people who are supposed to be citizens and who are discovering how yielding to the pleasure principle and devolving to numbnutz “consumers,” are starting to see what our inattention to the duties of citizenship have cost us. The predators are more agile than the sheeple, and until we huddle up in a herd and trample and gore enough of them, “we” will continue to fund the predations of “them,” the folks who concentrate not on making decent lives but on accumulating power and wealth. “We” did not “go to Notagainistan” or “Vietnam” (I speak as a 19-year-old idiot who actually ENLISTED in 1966). “They” suckered us into it, and a relatively few Machiavellians are all it takes to keep the Great Game going. And the MoneyAndPower game of RISK! is maybe too massive, short of actually running the Juggernaut over the cliff into Chaos, to deflect from its course. Of course, the Top Predators will likely jump off and skip along to their private islands, like so many of the Nazis after WW II, before that giant crash.

        A few people do really well off the smoke, mirrors and fog of war. The rest of us? Really, well, what can I say? Res Ipsa Loquitur…

  6. Here are Ten Reasons:

    The Ten Commandments On Afghanistan By Martin, Coretta, and Jeff

    1) Thou shalt not believe in a military victory
    2) Thou shalt not believe in a political victory
    3) Thou shalt not believe that they, the people of Afghanistan, love us
    4) Thou shalt not believe that the Karzai Government has the support of the people of Afghanistan
    5) Thou shalt not believe that the majority of the people in Afghanistan look upon the Taliban as terrorists
    6) Thou shalt not believe the figures of civilians killed
    7) Thou shalt not believe that the generals know best

    8) Thou shalt not believe that the enemy’s victory means more terrorism
    9) Thou shalt not believe that the world supports the United States
    10) Thou shalt not kill

  7. Joe from Lowell gives pretty much the analysis that a person would who only got Iraq news from Limbaugh Hannity and Levin.

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