Bombings, Corruption Plague Afghanistan; French Commander Targeted

The Times of London reports that French commanders meeting with local Afghan leaders northeast of Kabul were targeted by insurgents with rockets, which killed 12 Afghan civilians and wounded about 38. No French personnel appear to have come to harm, though the French Gen. Marcel Druart was in some danger. The Taliban claimed responsibility.

Also on Monday, Taliban attacked a checkpoint in southern Qandahar province, killing 8 policemen.

The addition of 40,000 US troops in Afghanistan would not only be unwise but might well break the bank, according to the NYT.

Russia Today interviews journalist David Axe, just back from Afghanistan, on the spiraling estimates of the likely cost of the war. He says a counter-insurgency strategy to protect all Afghans would take hundreds of thousands of troops and cost billions. He advises instead an ‘ink spot’ strategy to concentrate on a few hot spots.

Failed Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah told the Financial Times’s German edition that if the international forces suddenly withdrew from his country, he feared that the Taliban would take over. For a prominent politician, he seems to have no faith whatsoever in the capacities of his own government.

Meanwhile, CBS recently did a report on corruption in the Afghan government and among warlords, which is called ‘a bigger problem than the Taliban’– a problem that extends to the brother of President Hamid Karzai.

Karzai maintains that he is setting up anti-corruption prosecution squads, with US and EU help.

But The Nation has just brought out a piece showing that the corruption is massive and that under these conditions, some US government money actually underwrites the Taliban.

The US special inspector-general for Afghanistan, Arnold Fields, talks with Eurasianet about the corruption and other issues in Afghanistan.

Alan Brody, a UN official who saw the rise of the Taliban with his own eyes in the 1990s, reflections on how we arrived at our current impasse.

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  1. On "how we got to where we are" in Arabifakipuntistan, anyone wants a short read ought to pick up a copy of CIA paramilitary guy Gary Schroen's book, "First In." He was there, he was a principal actor, he blithely tells pretty much all about the anthropology and political economy of that sad, harsh area.

    You don't even have to read between the lines to see the genesis of corruption and futility, the absence of any unitary "insurgency" if for no other reason than that there is no "government' to "insurge," and maybe that's why the DoD dropped that part of the definition in its glossary of military jargon and the new term is apparently "militants." Like McChrystal is a "civilitant" and not a "militant," and we are once again gifted with a view of the light at the end of the tunnel?

    And Schroen's writings, not to mention the day's news, show so clearly how our stupid fixation on "naming The Enemy" either automatically blinds our Wise Policy Makers to any thinking that might lead to actual wisdom and less misery for the ordinary folks, or causes visions of corruption-borne sugar plums to dance in their heads.

    Jump from that to "Charlie Wilson's War," and applaud the "wisdom" of creating legends of "freedom fighters" in our own minds, and giving high-tech weapons to any old body who we can convince or defraud ourselves into believing is The Enemy of The Enemy. And from there to "The Kite Runner," for a pic of what "we" have allowed to waste away in our pursuit of an enemy worthy of us and couched in terms that ensures the Forever War will go on and fuckers like Karzai and Xe and, God bless him, J.K. Galbraith's own offspring, get to steal actual pallet-loads of shrink-wrapped blocks of non-sequential $100 US bills, or the equivalent in fungible oil.

    I guess we should be happy that the dollar is on the slide — whatever our sneaks and diplomats bought for that cash, maybe they'll end up with something like a good deal– for them, if not for the country, much less the species.

    "No real strategy for Afghanistan"? First, there is no such entity as "Afghanistan." Second, and last, we the US consumers, who are supposed to be "citizens," either applaud the fraud even as they pay their taxes because there's an "enemy" out there that "our troops" are going to fight and kill to protect our freedom and sacred way of life and foster democracy and all that shit, or are too depressed at the enormity of the momentum and inertia of Bidness As Usual and the need to work for a living to pay much attention. Our "leaders" profit, financially and politically, from staying the course, since they know they can jump ship before it hits the rocks. LKeaving the rest of us to "bail out" the boat as best we can. And just how are Cheney and Bush and Rove and Newt-the-slimy-bottom-dwelling-amphibian, "Fucking another woman while my wife has cancer is a family value" Gingrich, doing these days? D'Oh!

    Stupid human tricks — it's so easy to trick us into stupidity.

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