Bird’s Eye: Why are we in Afghanistan? Why are Afghanis being killed by Western soldiers? Was it to stop them from hating us, or to get a more just government than the Taliban? Why are we still there when it’s clearly such an unmitigated disaster from any goal perspective? Juan Cole gives an excellent overview on dominant myths that we tell ourselves, Counterpunch looks at why we’re following a failing policy, and new (to Tikkunista) blog Registan (All Central Asia, All The Time) explores a specific story of how a village was razed, to protect it from the Taliban.
* Top Ten Myths about Afghanistan Juan Cole Informed Comment
10. “There has been significant progress in tamping down the insurgency in Afghanistan.”
Fact: A recent National Intelligence Estimate by 16 intelligence agencies found no progress. It warned that large swathes of the country were at risk of falling to the Taliban and that they still had safe havens in Pakistan, with the Pakistani government complicit. The UN says there were over 6000 civilian casualties of war in Afghanistan in the first 10 months of 2010, a 20% increase over the same period in 2009. Also, 701 US and NATO troops have been killed this year, compared to 521 last year, a 25% increase. There were typically over 1000 insurgent attacks per month in Afghanistan this year, often twice as many per month as in 2009, recalling the guerrilla war in Iraq in 2005.
* Killing Peace in Afghanistan Conn Hallinan Counterpunch
In spite of a White House declaration that “progress” is being made in Afghanistan, by virtually any measure the war has deteriorated significantly since the Obama Administration surged troops into Kandahar and Helmand provinces. This past year has been the deadliest on record for U.S. and coalition troops. Civilian casualties are on the rise, and, according to the Red Cross, security has worsened throughout the country. U.S. allies are falling away, and the central government in Kabul has never been so isolated. Polls in Afghanistan, the U.S. and Europe reflect growing opposition to the nine-year conflict.
So why is the White House pursuing a strategy that is almost certain to accelerate a descent into chaos, and one that runs counter to the Administration’s stated goal of a diplomatic solution to the war? It is not an easy question to answer, in part because the major actors are hardly being straight with the public.
*The Unforgivable Horror of Village Razing Joshua Foust Registan.net
Translated from obnoxious mil-speak, she is describing the village being intimidated by the Taliban, who are chased away by soldiers, then “cleared” by special forces, and leveled by massive aerial bombardment, apparently with no casualties. Nowhere in this account is there a sense that the villagers felt any ill-will toward the Americans beforehand—rather, Broadwell explicitly describes the village as being victimized by the Taliban first, then being completely obliterated by the Americans. In other words, rather than actually clearing the village—not just chasing away the Taliban but cleaning up the bombs and munitions left over—the soldiers got lazy and decided to destroy the entire settlement… “to give the men confidence.” This sounds bad enough—like a nightmare from before there was a Fourth Geneva Convention that prohibited the collective punishment and expulsion of civilians from conflict zones—but it gets worse.