War in Afghanistan: Illegal, Untenable and Unwinnable - by Stephen Lendman
A May 30 Delaware County Times editorial headlined, "Is US fighting unwinnable war in Afghanistan" asking:
"Why should America (believe) it can (accomplish what the) Soviet Union (and) Britain couldn't....? Public sentiment against it is growing, and "Many pundits say the war....can never be won militarily...." How many more "US service member" deaths are tolerable?
On January 21, 2010, Britain's New Stateman sounded the same theme calling the Afghan war "unwinnable," recent events showing intensified fighting, rising casualties, and a popular resistance determined to prevail. "Britain should be making plans to withdraw," the publication concluded. So should America with no right to be there ethically, morally or legally, the war clearly in violation of US and international law like all others US forces waged since WW II.
On June 26, the UK Spectator, published since July 1828, was just as unequivocal, calling US and Kabul leadership "fractious, confused and contradictory, a sure sign that the war is being lost....Yes, the war in unwinnable. History and time are on the Afghans side."
Other publications voice the same sentiment, but not American ones, misreporting and backing lawless, losing bet despite souring public sentiment. A new Rasmussen poll shows nearly 60% of US voters believe American forces can't win or they're not sure, and 53% said the war isn't worth the cost. In Britain, nearly two-thirds of the public call the war unwinnable, saying UK forces shouldn't be there.
A recent Canadian poll showed about two-thirds of the population feel the war can't be won, 59% of them opposing their country's involvement. Nearly two-thirds of Australians want their nation's forces out, and a June 2009 Pew Global Attitudes survey showed public sentiment in three-fourths of the 25 countries surveyed against the war, wanting US and NATO troops withdrawn.
Only in America do major media pundits and editorial writers still back an illegal, unwinnable war, (and the Iraq one), The New York Times, in the lead, calling it "central to American security," hoping a Petraeus strategy will "genuinely blood(y)" the Taliban, after nearly nine futile years of trying under a dozen Iraq and Afghanistan commanders.
On June 27, Washington Post writer Greg Jaffe headlined the frustration saying, "Military disturbed by rapid turnover at top in Afghan, Iraq wars," commanders falling like tenpins, including Tommy Franks, William Fallon, Ricardo Sanchez, George Casey, David McKiernan, and Stanley McChrystal, sacked not for deriding his superiors, but for losing an unwinnable war, and, in fact, suggesting it like other generals and lower-ranking officers. So do professionals outside the military not reported in the mainstream. More on them below.
UK's Liberation Party - LP (Hizb ut-Tahir) Report
Founded in 1953, the Liberation Party "works to project a positive image of Islam to Western societies and engages in dialogue with Western thinkers, policymakers and academics."
Its January 2010 report titled, "Afghanistan & Pakistan: The Unwinnable War" reviewed the war's futility, recommending "an alternative path for the region," what's very much needed but not considered.
Instead, Afghans have suffered brutally under war and occupation - empty promises delivering death, destruction, impoverishment and depravation to a country John Pilger called more of a moonscape than a functioning nation, the result of sustained conflicts, violence and instability.
Today "the West has lost any form of moral authority," the puppet Karzai regime a farcical caricature of a government - corrupted, inept, and disdainful of its people in collusion with Washington, NATO, war profiteers, drug barons, and brutal warlords, a combination destroying the fabric of life in the country.
Clearly, "The neo-colonial mission has failed," yet Washington, Britain, and NATO "decided to double down" their bet and devote more resources under a new commander to "finish the job," an impossible mission short of mass extermination and laying waste to the entire country, turning it all and surrounding areas into moonscapes, perhaps the strategy under the next commander after this one fails and the war drags on, spreads, and inflames the entire Muslim world to a greater degree than already.
No wonder a popular resistance flourishes, supported by growing numbers seeing it as their best chance for liberation no matter what's next. Priority one is route the occupier and restore national sovereignty, perhaps inspiring Iraqis, Pakistanis, and other Muslim nations to achieve theirs by expunging America's presence and influence in the region, a malignancy destroying it.
The LP concludes the following:
-- like in Vietnam, the war is unwinnable, occupation producing a never-ending cycle of violence, resentment, hatred and retaliation having a devastating effect on the people;
-- under Washington and NATO, puppet governance is atrocious, corrupt, inept and unacceptable;
-- troop strength at any level can't prevail; waging war on the Taliban means fighting 50 million Pashtuns supporting them and growing numbers of others;
-- an exit strategy based on Afghan security forces doing NATO's bidding won't work; evidence shows no trust and increasing instances of belligerence against occupying troops;
-- calling Al-Qaeda and the Taliban America's threat is bogus to distract from its real aim - permanent occupation, exploiting Afghanistan's resources, and using the country as a land-based aircraft carrier against its major rivals, Russia militarily and China economically;
-- "growing and influential voices are now questioning the cost to Pakistan of supporting America's war;" it's counterproductive, destabilizing, and destructive to an already troubled nation, weakened further by allying with Washington's regional wars;
-- America and NATO have no legitimacy in Afghanistan or Iraq; both wars are illegal; the occupations breed resentment, hatred, and a never-ending cycle of violence; both countries deserve their sovereignty, stable economies, "a system consistent with peoples' values," freedom from foreign dominance, and new priorities must place popular "needs over the gains of a few or of private enterprise," exploiters for their own interests.
The LP concludes saying millions share its discontent, suggesting a "politics of hope" over Western war, occupation, corruption and despair. It recommends "a genuine end to the occupation" so Afghans can restore what worked well for 1,300 years before Western invaders showed up. "Unless the scourge of foreign occupation ends, the region will continue" to suffer and be dysfunctional. Once expunged, it can "independently tackle (its) innumerable....challenges (including) unbridled poverty....education (and) rampant corruption, most of all in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Israeli-controlled Palestine."
Healthcare NOT Warfare Campaign Report
Titled "War in Afghanistan: Untenable and Unwinnable," journalist Norman Solomon prepared it in autumn 2009 after visiting the country with others on a fact-finding trip, his itinerary including:
"discussions with top officials to encounters with malnourished refugees, and from briefings at multibillion dollar agencies to small grassroots NGO offices."
Eight key findings followed:
(1) American priorities won't "win the hearts and minds" of Afghans with war, occupation, and corruption in one of the world's most impoverished nations, the amount of aid offered thin to nil, little of it meant for what's most needed;
(2) USAID helps business, not people, and "has earned a wide-ranging reputation for waste and fraud in Afghanistan" and other US dominated countries globally;
(3) imperial war and occupation priorities take precedence over development and humanitarian aid;
(4) the little aid forthcoming is ill-directed and won't "alleviate Afghanistan's crushing poverty;" credible institutions and communities with urgent needs aren't getting it;
(5) the appalling neglect of internally displaced refugees "should be the subject of vigorous investigation" and correction; living in squalid conditions, many say they've gotten no help from America, the puppet government or UN; nor from most NGOs there to exploit for their own bottom-line interests, much how they operate globally;
(6) US free trade hypocrisy harms "Afghanistan's agriculture sector," except for its thriving heroin trade, mainly profiting drug lords, the CIA, and major Western financial interests, not Afghan farmers;
(7) contrary to Western propaganda, "the Taliban are far from being the main culprits in the Afghan drug trade," controlling "no more than 3% of the value of heroin exported....;" and
(8) Kabul's deteriorated security is the result of a failed war, occupation, and America's entire strategy and presence, no change of command can fix.
The report concludes saying Washington is "pursuing an increasingly untenable war effort," showing up in growing Taliban strength and support, as well as the "plung(ing) Karzai government('s) credibility. As a result, the Obama administration "will accomplish little by redoubling military efforts to (counter) deteriorating political and social conditions" on the ground. In fact, greater military aggression will "magnify the most negative dynamics now underway," including eroding support in the Democrat party base.
At its Executive Board meeting last November, California Democrats approved a resolution calling for an "End to US Occupation and Air War in Afghanistan," following an appeal by marine veteran Rick Reyes, who served there and in Iraq, saying:
"There is no military solution in Afghanistan. (Their) problems are social," not ones militarism can fix. "We dishonor the patriotism and the sense of justice of our brave men and women by sending them to fight, proclaiming that they sacrifice for democracy and national security when really they struggle and die in support of nothing more than a proven criminal regime" in league with imperial homeland and war profiteering interests - at the expense of Americans, Afghans, and the region.
The Afghan and Iraq wars and occupations are immoral, illegal, untenable, unwinnable, and unsustainable, their continuation decaying America morally, and heading the country for isolation, despotism and insolvency, a path perhaps too far along to reverse given decades of militarism, corporate control, and pervasive high-level public and private corruption, a frightening bottom line conclusion.
A Final Comment
As in earlier conflicts, America's Iraq and Afghanistan rules of engagement (ROEs) include targeted assassinations and death squad terror, mostly against civilians, counterinsurgency lawlessness to cow people into submission - suppressed or misreported by the media, including predator drone attacks in recent years launching missiles or bombs in air attacks killing up to 50 civilians for each militant in violation of established principles of distinction, necessity, proportionality, and humanity.
Under McChrystal, they escalated dramatically, reigning indiscriminate death and destruction in Afghanistan and Pakistan, cold-blooded murder - in vain, based on the results, but they'll continue, maybe increase under Petraeus, showing America is both lawless and merciless, even knowing it can't prevail.
The likelihood is suggested by Stephen Biddle, Fotini Christia, and J Alexander Thier in their Foreign Affairs article headlined, "Defining Success in Afghanistan," saying:
"The original plan for a post-Taliban Afghanistan....no longer appears feasible, if it ever was," in a nation governed the way America wishes. As a result, Washington and NATO countries are more willing to reach accommodation with middle and lower level Taliban members. In other words, if defeating them fails, buy them off not to fight, what worked in Iraq short term, growing violence, however, showing expediency failed, its same fate in Afghanistan if tried.
Biddle, Christia and Thier believe "tolerable stability" is now acceptable, a major climb down from earlier more ambitious, unrealistic aims - America's, not Afghans' wanting their country back, and an end to Washington's presence, an 82nd Airborne Division soldier speaking for many others saying: "We get a lot of dirty looks. I get the feeling they don't like us very much around here," why they'll keep fighting until you're gone, knowing they'll win. You'll lose, a lesson front line troops know, not their commanders or officials back home.
A final note. On June 30, the Senate unanimously confirmed David Petraeus as US Afghanistan commander, showing the entire body supports the illegal, unwinnable war, not a profile in courage in sight.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.