Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Afghanistan: Ten Years of Aimless War

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Afghanistan: Ten Years of Aimless War

Article excerpt

The renowned military strategist Maj. Gen. J.F.C. Fuller defined war's true objective as achieving desired political results, not killing enemies.

But this is just what the U.S. has been doing in Afghanistan. After 10 years of war costing at least $450 billion, 1,600 dead and 15,000 seriously wounded soldiers, the U.S. has achieved none of its strategic or political goals.

Each U.S. soldier in Afghanistan costs $1 million per annum. CIA employs 80,000 mercenaries there, cost unknown. The U.S. spends a staggering $20.2 billion alone annually air conditioning troop quarters in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The most damning assessment comes from the U.S.-installed Afghan leader, Hamid Karzai: America's war has been "ineffective, apart from causing civilian casualties."

Washington's goal was a favorable political settlement producing a pacified Afghan state run by a regime totally responsive to U.S. political, economic and strategic interests; a native sepoy army led by white officers; and U.S. bases that threaten Iran, watch China, and control the energy-rich Caspian Basin.

All the claims made about fighting "terrorism and al-Qaeda," liberating Afghan women and bringing democracy are pro-war window dressing. CIA chief Leon Panetta admitted there were no more than 25 to 50 al-Qaeda members in Afghanistan. Why are there 150,000 U.S. and NATO troops there?

Washington's real objective was clearly defined in 2007 by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher: to "stabilize Afghanistan so it can become a conduit and hub between South and Central Asia-so energy can flow south."

The Turkmenistan-Afghan-Pakistan TAPI gas pipeline that the U.S. has sought since 1998 is finally nearing completion. But whether it can operate in the face of sabotage remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, Washington has been unable to create a stable government in Kabul. The primary reason: ethnic politics. Over half the population is Pashtun (or Pathan), from whose ranks come the Taliban. Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara minorities fiercely oppose the Pashtun. All three collaborated with the Soviet occupation from 1979-1989; today they collaborate with the U.S. and NATO occupation.

Most of the Afghan army and police, on which the U.S. spends $6 billion annually, are Tajiks and Uzbek, many members of the old Afghan Communist Party. To Pashtun, they are bitter enemies. In Afghanistan, the U.S. has built its political house on ethnic quicksands.

Worse, U.S.-run Afghanistan now produces 93 percent of the world's most dangerous narcotic, heroin. …

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