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We tell ourselves the stories we need to hear. This is excerpt details American involvement in Afghanistan, but from a non-embedded reporters point of view and analysis.
“The central thesis of the American failure in Afghanistan — the one you’ll hear from politicians and pundits and even scholars — was succinctly propounded by Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage: “The war in Iraq drained resources from Afghanistan before things were under control.” In this view, the American invasion of Iraq became a crucial distraction from stabilization efforts in Afghanistan, and in the resulting security vacuum the Taliban reasserted themselves.
At its core, the argument rests upon a key premise: that jihadi terrorism could be defeated through the military occupation of a country. That formulation seemed natural enough to many of us in the wake of 9/11. But travel through the southern Afghan countryside, and you will hear quite a different interpretation of what happened. It comes in snippets and flashes, in the stories people tell and their memories of the time, and it points to a contradiction buried deep in the war’s basic premise.
You can find this contradiction embodied in a sprawling jumble of dust-blown hangars, barracks, and Burger Kings, a facility of barbed wire, gunmen, and internment cages: Kandahar Airfield, or KAF, as it came to be called, the nerve center for American operations in southern Afghanistan, home to elite units like the Navy SEALs and the Green Berets. A military base in a country like Afghanistan is also a web of relationships, a hub for the local economy, and a key player in the political ecosystem. Unravel how this base came to be, and you’ll begin to understand how war returned to the fields of Maiwand.
In December 2001, an American Special Operations Forces unit pulled into an old Soviet airbase on the outskirts of Kandahar city. They were accompanied by a team of Afghan militiamen and their commander, a gregarious, grizzly bear of a man named Gul Agha Sherzai. An anti-Taliban warlord, Sherzai had shot to notoriety in the 1990s following the death of his illustrious father, Hajji Latif, a onetime bandit turned mujahed known as “the Lion of Kandahar.” (Upon assuming his father’s mantle, Gul Agha had rechristened himself Sherzai, Son of the Lion. His first name, incidentally, roughly translates as “Respected Mr. Flower.”) With American backing, Sherzai seized the airfield, then in ruins, and subsequently installed himself in the local governor’s mansion — a move that incensed many, Hamid Karzai among them. Nonetheless, Sherzai brought a certain flair to the office, quickly catching notice for his fist-pounding speeches, tearful soliloquies, and outbursts of uncontrollable laughter, sometimes all in a single conversation.
Sherzai may not have had much experience in government, except a brief tenure as Kandahar’s “governor” during the anarchic mid-1990s, but he knew a good business opportunity when he saw one. The airbase where the Americans were encamped was derelict and weedy, strewn with smashed furniture and seeded with land mines from the Soviet era. Early on, one of Sherzai’s lieutenants met Master Sergeant Perry Toomer, a U.S. officer in charge of logistics and contracting. “I started talking to him,” Toomer said, “and found out that they had a knowledge of how to get this place started.” After touring the facilities, the Americans placed their first order: $325 in cash for a pair of Honda water pumps.
It would mark the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership. With Sherzai’s services, the cracked and cratered airstrip blossomed into a massive, sprawling military base, home to one of the world’s busiest airports. Kandahar Airfield would grow into a key hub in Washington’s global war on terror, housing top-secret black-ops command rooms and large wire-mesh cages for terror suspects en route to the American prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
For Sherzai, KAF would be only the beginning. In a few swift strokes, he made the desert bloom with American installations — and turned an extravagant profit in the process. He swiped land and rented it to U.S. forces to the tune of millions of dollars. Amid the ensuing construction boom, he seized gravel quarries, charging as much as $100 a load for what would normally have been an $8-a-load job. He furnished American troops with fuel for their trucks and workers for their projects, raking in commissions while functioning as an informal temp agency for his tribesmen.
With this windfall, he diversified into gasoline and water distribution, real estate, taxi services, mining, and, most lucrative of all, opium. No longer a mere governor, he was now one of the most powerful men in Afghanistan. Every morning, lines of supplicants would curl out of the governor’s mansion.
As his web of patronage grew, he began providing the Americans with hired guns, usually from his own Barakzai tribe — making him, in essence, a private security contractor, an Afghan Blackwater. And like the employees of that notorious American firm, Sherzai’s gunmen lived largely outside the jurisdiction of any government. Even as Washington pumped in funds to create a national Afghan army and police, the U.S. military subsidized Sherzai’s mercenaries, who owed their loyalty to the governor and the special forces alone. Some of his units could even be seen garbed in U.S. uniforms, driving heavily armed flatbed trucks through the streets of Kandahar.
How to Fight the War on Terror Without an Adversary
Of course, even in the new Afghanistan there was no such thing as a free lunch. In return for privileged access to American dollars, Sherzai delivered the one thing U.S. forces felt they needed most: intelligence. His men became the Americans’ eyes and ears in their drive to eradicate the Taliban and al-Qaeda from Kandahar.
Yet here lay the contradiction. Following the Taliban’s collapse, al-Qaeda had fled the country, resettling in the tribal regions of Pakistan and in Iran. By April 2002, the group could no longer be found in Kandahar — or anywhere else in Afghanistan. The Taliban, meanwhile, had ceased to exist, its members having retired to their homes and surrendered their weapons. Save for a few lone wolf attacks, U.S. forces in Kandahar in 2002 faced no resistance at all. The terrorists had all decamped or abandoned the cause, yet U.S. special forces were on Afghan soil with a clear political mandate: defeat terrorism.
How do you fight a war without an adversary? Enter Gul Agha Sherzai — and men like him around the country. Eager to survive and prosper, he and his commanders followed the logic of the American presence to its obvious conclusion. They would create enemies where there were none, exploiting the perverse incentive mechanism that the Americans — without even realizing it — had put in place.
Sherzai’s enemies became America’s enemies, his battles its battles. His personal feuds and jealousies were repackaged as “counterterrorism,” his business interests as Washington’s. And where rivalries did not do the trick, the prospect of further profits did. (One American leaflet dropped by plane in the area read: “Get Wealth and Power Beyond Your Dreams. Help Anti-Taliban Forces Rid Afghanistan of Murderers and Terrorists.”)
-Excerpted from No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War Through Afghan Eyes by Anand Gopal, published by Metropolitan Books, an imprint of Henry Holt and Company, LLC.
Copyright 2015 Anand Gopal
A brief note. I think that this essay should be required reading for all those who consider joining the armed forces and participating in the cycle of terrorism and destruction that currently dominates our foreign policy and geo-political goals here in the West. Many thanks to Tom’s Dispatch for hosting the essay.
“Why The War on Terror Shouldn’t Be Your Battle.”
Let’s start that unpacking process with racism: That was the first and one of the last times I heard the word “enemy” in battalion. The usual word in my unit was “Hajji.” Now, Hajji is a word of honor among Muslims, referring to someone who has successfully completed a pilgrimage to the Holy Site of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. In the U.S. military, however, it was a slur that implied something so much bigger.
The soldiers in my unit just assumed that the mission of the small band of people who took down the Twin Towers and put a hole in the Pentagon could be applied to any religious person among the more than 1.6 billion Muslims on this planet. The platoon sergeant would soon help usher me into group-blame mode with that “enemy.” I was to be taught instrumental aggression. The pain caused by 9/11 was to be tied to the everyday group dynamics of our unit. This is how they would get me to fight effectively. I was about to be cut off from my previous life and psychological manipulation of a radical sort would be involved. This is something you should prepare yourself for.
When you start hearing the same type of language from your chain-of-command in its attempt to dehumanize the people you are off to fight, remember that 93% of all Muslims condemned the attacks on 9/11. And those who sympathized claimed they feared a U.S. occupation and cited political not religious reasons for their support.
But, to be blunt, as George W. Bush said early on (and then never repeated), the war on terror was indeed imagined in the highest of places as a “crusade.” When I was in the Rangers, that was a given. The formula was simple enough: al-Qaeda and the Taliban represented all of Islam, which was our enemy. Now, in that group-blame game, ISIS, with its mini-terror state in Iraq and Syria, has taken over the role. Be clear again that nearly all Muslims reject its tactics. Even Sunnis in the region where ISIS is operating are increasingly rejecting the group. And it is those Sunnis who may indeed take down ISIS when the time is right.
“If you want to be true to yourself, don’t be swept up in the racism of the moment. Your job should be to end war, not perpetuate it. Never forget that.
The second stop in that unpacking process should be poverty: After a few months, I was finally shipped off to Afghanistan. We landed in the middle of the night. As the doors on our C-5 opened, the smell of dust, clay, and old fruit rolled into the belly of that transport plane. I was expecting the bullets to start whizzing by me as I left it, but we were at Bagram Air Base, a largely secure place in 2002.
Jump ahead two weeks and a three-hour helicopter ride and we were at our forward operating base. The morning after we arrived I noticed an Afghan woman pounding at the hard yellow dirt with a shovel, trying to dig up a gaunt little shrub just outside the stone walls of the base. Through the eye-slit of her burqa I could just catch a hint of her aged face. My unit took off from that base, marching along a road, hoping (I suspect) to stir up a little trouble. We were presenting ourselves as bait, but there were no bites.
When we returned a few hours later, that woman was still digging and gathering firewood, undoubtedly to cook her family’s dinner that night. We had our grenade launchers, our M242 machine guns that fired 200 rounds a minute, our night-vision goggles, and plenty of food — all vacuum-sealed and all of it tasting the same. We were so much better equipped to deal with the mountains of Afghanistan than that woman — or so it seemed to us then. But it was, of course, her country, not ours, and its poverty, like that of so many places you may find yourself in, will, I assure you, be unlike anything you have ever seen. You will be part of the most technologically advanced military on Earth and you will be greeted by the poorest of the poor. Your weaponry in such an impoverished society will feel obscene on many levels. Personally, I felt like a bully much of my time in Afghanistan.
Now, it’s the moment to unpack “the enemy”: Most of my time in Afghanistan was quiet and calm. Yes, rockets occasionally landed in our bases, but most of the Taliban had surrendered by the time I entered the country. I didn’t know it then, but as Anand Gopal has reported in his groundbreaking book, No Good Men Among the Living, our war on terror warriors weren’t satisfied with reports of the unconditional surrender of the Taliban. So units like mine were sent out looking for “the enemy.” Our job was to draw the Taliban — or anyone really — back into the fight.
Believe me, it was ugly. We were often enough targeting innocent people based on bad intelligence and in some cases even seizing Afghans who had actually pledged allegiance to the U.S. mission. For many former Taliban members, it became an obvious choice: fight or starve, take up arms again or be randomly seized and possibly killed anyway. Eventually the Taliban did regroup and today they are resurgent. I know now that if our country’s leadership had truly had peace on its mind, it could have all been over in Afghanistan in early 2002.
If you are shipped off to Iraq for our latest war there, remember that the Sunni population you will be targeting is reacting to a U.S.-backed Shia regime in Baghdad that’s done them dirty for years. ISIS exists to a significant degree because the largely secular members of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath party were labeled the enemy as they tried to surrender after the U.S. invasion of 2003. Many of them had the urge to be reincorporated into a functioning society, but no such luck; and then, of course, the key official the Bush administration sent to Baghdad simply disbanded Saddam Hussein’s army and tossed its 400,000 troops out onto the streets at a time of mass unemployment.
It was a remarkable formula for creating resistance in another country where surrender wasn’t good enough. The Americans of that moment wanted to control Iraq (and its oil reserves). To this end, in 2006, they backed the Shia autocrat Nouri al-Maliki for prime minister in a situation where Shia militias were increasingly intent on ethnically cleansing the Sunni population of the Iraqi capital.
Given the reign of terror that followed, it’s hardly surprising to find former Baathist army officers in key positions in ISIS and the Sunnis choosing that grim outfit as the lesser of the two evils in its world. Again, the enemy you are being shipped off to fight is, at least in part, a product of your chain-of-command’s meddling in a sovereign country. And remember that, whatever its grim acts, this enemy presents no existential threat to American security, at least so says Vice President Joe Biden. Let that sink in for a while and then ask yourself whether you really can take your marching orders seriously.
Next, in that unpacking process, consider noncombatants: When unidentified Afghans would shoot at our tents with old Russian rocket launchers, we would guesstimate where the rockets had come from and then call in air strikes. You’re talking 500-pound bombs. And so civilians would die. Believe me, that’s really what’s at the heart of our ongoing war. Any American like you heading into a war zone in any of these years was likely to witness what we call “collateral damage.” That’s dead civilians.
The number of non-combatants killed since 9/11 across the Greater Middle East in our ongoing war has been breathtaking and horrifying. Be prepared, when you fight, to take out more civilians than actual gun-toting or bomb-wielding “militants.” At the least, an estimated 174,000 civilians died violent deaths as a result of U.S. wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan between 2001 and April 2014. In Iraq, over 70% of those who died are estimated to have been civilians. So get ready to contend with needless deaths and think about all those who have lost friends and family members in these wars, and themselves are now scarred for life. A lot of people who once would never have thought about fighting any type of war or attacking Americans now entertain the idea. In other words, you will be perpetuating war, handing it off to the future.”
Democracy promotion abroad. Funny how it seem to only happen in locals of geopolitical importance. I’m sure we’ll get around to distributing freedom for everyone eventually. Afghanistan, on the other hand, is geopolitically important to the West for possible energy reserves and pipe lines that could be a significant boon to our adversaries thus in Afghanistan we remain, murdering people merrily with our drones and wondering why…oh why… do they hate us so.
Of course, hating the West is nothing new in Afghanistan (or even here in North America as those without sufficient enthusiasm for the ‘America, Fuck Ya!’ spirit are labelled unpatriotic or “self-hating”) and unsurprisingly the West’s notions of liberty and equality do not have much traction.
This situation in Afghanistan, of course, is bad for women and a recent government ruling highlights the archaic regime’s failure to understand that women are people.
“Conservative religious lawmakers in Afghanistan blocked legislation on Saturday aimed at strengthening provisions for women’s freedoms, arguing that parts of it violate Islamic principles and encourage disobedience.”
Ah, the shit-stain of religion once again reemerges to sully humanity’s escutcheon in the name of peace, order and good government. Christianity, Islam it doesn’t really matter it is all cut from the same tattered patriarchal cloth. Religion is bad for women and great for patriarchy.
“Khalil Ahmad Shaheedzada, a conservative lawmaker for Herat province, said the legislation was withdrawn shortly after being introduced in parliament because of an uproar by religious parties who said parts of the law are un-Islamic.
“Whatever is against Islamic law, we don’t even need to speak about it,” Shaheedzada said.”
They also plan to outlaw the earth revolving around the sun as well. Stupid says as stupid does.
“The Law on Elimination of Violence Against Women has been in effect since 2009, but only by presidential decree. It is being brought before parliament now because lawmaker Fawzia Kofi, a women’s rights activist, wants to cement it with a parliamentary vote to prevent its potential reversal by any future president who might be tempted to repeal it to satisfy hard-line religious parties.”
What?!? The religious fighting against rights for women. This is shocking.
The law criminalizes, among other things, child marriage and forced marriage, and bans “baad,” the traditional practice of exchanging girls and women to settle disputes. It makes domestic violence a crime punishable by up to three years in prison and specifies that rape victims should not face criminal charges for fornication or adultery.”
Anything disagreeable so far? To those not mired in the delusional fap-world of religiosity, nothing disagreeable at all.
“The child marriage ban and the idea of protecting female rape victims from prosecution were particularly heated subjects in Saturday’s parliamentary debate, said Nasirullah Sadiqizada Neli, a conservative lawmaker from Daykundi province.
Neli suggested that removing the custom — common in Afghanistan — of prosecuting raped women for adultery would lead to social chaos, with women freely engaging in extramarital sex safe in the knowledge they could claim rape if caught.”
Agency for women? What is this foolish talk? Social chaos indeed. This kind of hare-brained thinking needs to frakking die already. I have news for you my deranged mullah friends. Women have the capacity to make decisions for themselves that what is best for themselves. Your religiously addled brain can now begin to melt.
“Adultery itself is a crime in Islam, whether it is by force or not,” Rahmani said.”
And the vast majority of males being charged are a testament to this scripture…
“He said the Quran also makes clear that a husband has a right to beat a disobedient wife as a last resort, as long as she is not permanently harmed.
“But in this law,” he said, “It says if a man beats his wife at all, he should be jailed for three months to three years.”
And that law is rigorously applied because the male lawyers, male judges and the male justice system are all about protecting women in Afghanistan. It is certainly not about proscribing female behaviour and legislating how women should act. It is shit like this that religious have to answer for.
“Lawmaker Shaheedzada also claimed that the law might encourage disobedience among girls and women, saying it reflected Western values not applicable in Afghanistan.”
The right to be treated as a human being is not a Western Value, but a basic human right. Fuck you and your sophomoric cultural relativism.
“Even now in Afghanistan, women are running from their husbands. Girls are running from home,” Shaheedzada said. “Such laws give them these ideas.”
Ideas like. “I am a person who deserves to be treated with dignity and respect”. Obviously this needs to be quashed ASAP by the noble forces of Islam.
“There’s a real risk this has opened a Pandora’s box, that this may have galvanized opposition to this decree by people who in principle oppose greater rights for women,” said Heather Barr, a researcher for Human Rights Watch.
That’s true for lawmaker Rahmani, who said President Hamid Karzai should never have issued the decree and wants it changed, if not repealed.
“We cannot have an Islamic country with basically Western laws,” he said.”
If protections and human rights are contrary to running an Islamic country then I suggest that having a Islamic country isn’t a shit-hot idea in the first place and the notion should be binned accordingly.
Islamic religious arseholes. :/
I’m struck by the casual nature of the media when it comes to reporting on imperial wars. Casualties are tallied, the right words are said, but then off we go to the next soundbite. Time for reflection and contemplation is becoming (has become) a lost art. Louder, Bigger, and Faster are what we’re all about now; and it is wrong, dead wrong.
Poking wasps nests with chopsticks seems to be the motive behind much of US foreign policy. The cesspool that is Afghanistan needs only a couple of gentle stirs to spray its fetid lunacy and violence on everything and everyone. Case in point, burning paper turns the people bug-frack crazy:
“Afghan officials say at least two demonstrators have been killed in northern Afghanistan as protests over last week’s burning of Qur’ans turned violent.
It marked the sixth day of deadly protests over the burning of Qur’ans and other religious materials at a U.S. base. The White House has called the incident a mistake and apologized to the Afghan government but demonstrations have continued.”
The US relationship with Afghanistan seems to be suffering multiple personality disorder. Drone attacks that butcher civilians get little mention, but burning the Koran gets an official apology? It makes no sense. You don’t do PR in an occupied country, you just get the job done because by now any notion of good intent or nation building is long gone. All that remains is the national interest, the more discretely it is handled the better.
“The administrator of Iman Sahib district in Kunduz province says Sunday’s protest turned violent as demonstrators tried to enter the district’s largest city. He says people in the crowd fired on police and threw grenades at a U.S. base nearby. NATO said initial reports indicated no international service members were killed.”
Ignorant people with access to small arms and explosives, how could anything go wrong?
“A gunman killed two U.S. military advisers with shots to the back of the head Saturday inside a heavily guarded ministry building in Kabul, and NATO ordered military workers out of Afghan ministries as protests raged for a fifth day over the burning of Qur’ans at a U.S. army base.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack at the Interior Ministry, saying it was retaliation for the Qur’an burnings, after the two U.S. servicemen — a lieutenant-colonel and a major — were found dead on their office floor, Afghan and western officials said.”
Whoops. Underestimating the resolve of your enemy is always a recipe for trouble. U.S/NATO forces will be forced to reevaluate their security procedures after this incident.
“The two American service members were found by another foreigner who went into the room, which is only accessible by people who know the correct numerical combination, according to the Afghan official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to disclose details about the shootings.
They were shot in the back of the head, according to Western officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose the information. Authorities were poring over security camera video for clues, the Afghan official said.”
I wonder if the American Administration is getting the message? The slow-motion withdrawal is only going to cost more lives. Admit defeat, and get on with the program already, there are others in line just waiting to be invaded and oppressed.
Media Lens does fantastic, if grim work, in describing the system we live in. We are insulated from other narratives other ideas, other peoples sufferings. How can a public become informed with no other sources to cross reference? You cannot triangulate with only one point. Media Lens, Al-Jazeera and other alternative news sources provide those points for those who have the resources to find out.
The Statistics of Western State Terror (click title for link to full article)
“Ten years later, the violent consequences of the invasion of Afghanistan are truly appalling. A Stop the War video, ‘What is the true cost of the Afghanistan war?’ details some of the appalling statistics:
9,300 Afghan civilians have been killed by International Security Assistance Forces, i.e. Nato.
380 British soldiers are dead.
£18 billion of UK taxpayer’s money has been spent.
The war is costing Britain £12 million per day. The same amount could employ 100,000 nurses (at £21,000 annually) and 150,000 care workers (£15,000).
A study by Brown University in the United States estimates an unimaginable combined sum of up to $4 trillion to fight the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In Afghanistan, ‘cautious estimates’ of the total civilian death toll exceed 40,000 people, of which:
25.6% killed by ISAF forces.
15.4% killed by anti-government forces.
60% killed by poverty, disease and starvation.
In particular, the horrendous killing of Afghan children in US air strikes and night raids gets scant coverage, if any, before the Western media swiftly looks away.
There are now three million refugees from Afghanistan: 30.7% of the world’s total, exceeding the figures of 16.9% from Iraq, 7.7% from Somalia and 4.8% from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
74% of the British public want the occupation to end either ‘immediately’ or ‘soon’.
Very little of this reality made it into the largely uncritical coverage of the ten-year anniversary of the West’s aggression against Afghanistan.
In the conclusion to a new report for Stop the War, David Swanson provides a stunning example of the media’s systematic bias:
‘On August 6, 2011, numerous US media outlets reported “the deadliest day of the war” because 38 soldiers, including 30 U.S. troops, had been killed when their helicopter was shot down.
‘But compare that with the day of May 4, 2009, discussed in this report, on which 140 people, including 93 children, were killed in U.S. airstrikes. We are denying to each other through silence and misdirection every day that the children of Afghanistan exist. But their deaths are rising.’
But the deaths of Afghan children, and the suffering of the people of Afghanistan, are seemingly of little consequence for most Western journalists who would rather focus on the ‘progress’ and ‘achievements’ of the Nato ‘campaign’. “
Afghanistan destroys Empires. Ask Great Britain, ask the Russians. The US is well along the same course, but rather than being blinded by nationalism, or ideology the American poison of choice is the continued mismanagement of priorities by the corporate elite. The corporate elite are running the foreign policy bus off a cliff and bankrupting the US in the process.
“Among multiple layers of deception and newspeak, the official Washington spin on the strategic quagmire in Afghanistan simply does not hold.
No more than “50-75 ‘al-Qaeda types’ in Afghanistan”, according to the CIA, have been responsible for draining the US government by no less than US $10 billion a month, or $120 billion a year. “
120 billion is a tidy sum that would go a long way in the ‘butter’ rather than the ‘guns’ department.
“A recent, detailed study by the Eisenhower Research Project at Brown University revealed that the war on terror has cost the US economy, so far, from $3.7 trillion (the most conservative estimate) to $4.4 trillion (the moderate estimate). Then there are interest payments on these costs – another $1 trillion.
That makes the total cost of the war on terror to be, at least, a staggering $5.4 trillion. And that does not include, as the report mentions, “additional macroeconomic consequences of war spending”, or a promised (and undelivered) $5.3 billion reconstruction aid for Afghanistan.
Who’s profiting from this bonanza? That’s easy – US military contractors and a global banking/financial elite.”
Well, it is good to see that someone is making money during this downturn of the economy, although I’d hate to be the person having to explain the American public why the coffers fly open so easily when it comes to Military contractors and yet seem welded shut when it comes to public expenditures such as social security and health care.
“In the famous November 1, 2004 video that played a crucial part in assuring the reelection of George W. Bush, Osama bin Laden – or a clone of Osama bin Laden – once again expanded on how the “mujahedeen bled Russia for 10 years until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat.” That’s the exact same strategy al-Qaeda has deployed against the US; according to Bin Laden at the time, “all that we have to do is to send two mujahedeen to the farthest point East to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaeda in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note, other than some benefits to their private companies.”
The record since 9/11 shows that’s exactly what’s happening. The war on terror has totally depleted the US treasury – to the point that the White House and Congress are now immersed in a titanic battle over a $4 trillion debt ceiling.
What is never mentioned is that these trillions of dollars were ruthlessly subtracted from the wellbeing of average Americans – smashing the carefully constructed myth of the American dream.”
The problem, back in the US, is that ordinary people are not being represented in Congress. Americans, for the most part are a kind, generous people. They may hold some funny notions about egalitarianism (and religion and…), but on the whole they are not the ignorant, jingoistic warmongers that the media often paint them to be. If the interests of the majority of American’s were actually respected, instead of a small section of the elites, the US would truly be that ‘shining city on the hill’. Yet the prosperity of the average American is being sacrificed on the altar of war so that a narrow slice of the populace can profit.
“It all comes back, once again, to Pipelineistan – and one of its outstanding chimeras; the Turkmenistan/Afghanistan/Pakistan (TAP) gas pipeline, also known once as the Trans-Afghan Pipeline, which might one day become TAPI if India decides to be on board.
The US corporate media simply refuses to cover what is one of the most important stories of the early 21st century.
Washington has badly wanted TAP since the mid-1990s, when the Clinton administration was negotiating with the Taliban; the talks broke down because of transit fees, even before 9/11, when the Bush administration decided to change the rhetoric from “a carpet of gold” to “a carpet of bombs”.
TAP is a classic Pipelineistan gambit; the US supporting the flow of gas from Central Asia to global markets, bypassing both Iran and Russia. If it ever gets built, it will cost over $10 billion.
It needs a totally pacified Afghanistan – still another chimera – and a Pakistani government totally implicated in Afghanistan’s security, still a no-no as long as Islamabad’s policy is to have Afghanistan as its “strategic depth”, a vassal state, in a long-term confrontation mindset against India.”
Is the War all about the pipeline as the article suggests? More research is needed into the topic, but it would be hardly surprising to observe that this is one of the overarching goals of the war in Afghanistan.
“It’s mind-boggling that 10 years and $5.4 trillion dollars later, the situation is exactly the same. Washington still badly wants “its” pipeline – which will in fact be a winning game mostly for commodity traders, global finance majors and Western energy giants.
From the standpoint of these elites, the ideal endgame scenario is global Robocop NATO – helped by hundreds of thousands of mercenaries – “protecting” TAP (or TAPI) while taking a 24/7 peek on what’s going on in neighbours Russia and China.
Sharp wits in India have described Washington’s tortuous moves in Afghanistan as “surge, bribe and run”. It’s rather “surge, bribe and stay”. This whole saga might have been accomplished without a superpower bankrupting itself, and without immense, atrocious, sustained loss of life, but hey – nobody’s perfect.”
Are the strategic resources in the region worth the devastation of the Western world’s largest economy? The movers and the shakers in the US seem to think so.