'Operation Enduring Failure', Eamonn McCann on the West's endless war in Afghanistan.


Eamonn McCann - Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Daily Telegraph columnist Eamonn McCann draws up a balance sheet of the West's war in Afghanistan--and finds nothing for the plus side.

SO WHO are you going to believe, then: the svelte dude at the White House podium or the grimy character preaching from a hut in the Hindu Kush? Barack Obama or Zabihullah Mujahid?

On October 7, Obama declared that "our citizens are safer and our nation is more secure" as a result of 10 years of the Afghan war, which his administration was now "responsibly ending...from a position of strength."

In a message delivered to Reuters the same day, Mujahid took a different view: "Even with scarce weapons and equipment, [we have] forced the occupiers, who intended to stay forever, to rethink their position. If we hold tightly on to the rope of Allah, our enemy will be forced to leave our country completely."

"Rope of Allah" falls strangely on the ears. A problem in translation, perhaps. But no problem deciding which of the two leaders offered the more accurate assessment.

Nor is there any reason to believe that the streets of Western cities are now safer. The July 7 bombing in London was perpetrated in 2005--four years after the invasion of Afghanistan. One of the bombers, Shehaz Tanweer, left a "suicide video" explicitly citing the presence of British troops in Afghanistan as justification for the massacre he was about to inflict.

None of the 19 September 11 hijackers had come from Afghanistan. All but one were Saudis. Obama has just concluded the biggest arms deal in history with the Saudi dictatorship.

Getting out of Afghanistan on the wing of a lie and a prayer.

By Laura King - Los Angeles Times

US-NATO knows the game is up in Afghanistan and all that's left to play for is to find a way of dressing up defeat as "success" and "progress" and declaring "victory" as they leave.

The young U.S. Army sergeant had lost nearly all the blood in his body by the time he was rushed into a military field clinic at this dusty base in eastern Afghanistan.

As his distraught unit mates converged on the surgical suite, some of them weeping, the entire camp pitched in for an emergency blood drive. But military doctors' frantic efforts were futile, and Sgt. John A. Lyons, a 26-year-old from New Jersey who had studied Latin in college, died of the wounds he had suffered in a Taliban ambush.

As the U.S.-led war against the Taliban grinds into its second decade, the life-and-death struggle taking place daily across Afghanistan has gotten entangled in increasingly divergent narratives of the Western war effort. In this high-stakes phase of a waning conflict, perceptions of success have become crucial, perhaps more so than reality.

Yet even as the question of what constitutes success has become more urgent, it has become more difficult to pin down.

With an American troop drawdown underway and expected to accelerate in the coming year, the NATO force insists that violence is declining, that the insurgency's strength is flagging and that Afghan forces are demonstrating a growing ability to take the lead in safeguarding the country.

Why the US occupation is no help to Afghanistan rape survivors.

By Yifat Susskin -

If you look only at Afghan "culture" to explain the lack of women's rights in Afghanistan, you miss the fact that US militarism has contributed to the crisis of Afghan women.

Two years ago, a 19-year-old Afghan woman named Gulnaz turned to the police after she was raped. For months, she had kept quiet about the attack. She was afraid of the retribution she might face for having tainted her family’s “honor.” She had already begun to show signs of the pregnancy conceived through the rape.

What happen next only worsened her trauma. She was sentenced to 12 years in prison for the crime of adultery, for having had sex outside of marriage. She was given a choice: marry her rapist or go to prison.

Recently, Gulnaz’s case has grabbed headlines. Her lawyers have mobilized a petition that gathered nearly 5,000 signatures in just a few days, demanding a pardon for Gulnaz from Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

So far, there has been some good news. Karzai has agreed to her release, but accounts differ as to whether she will still be required to marry her rapist.

Meanwhile, this case has revealed how far we still have to go when it comes to the conversation around Afghan women’s rights.

Some have taken this opportunity to remind us women of how glad we should be to live in the US. It’s a convenient story that too many like to tell themselves—that human rights violations only happen “over there.” It puts forward the falsehood that women’s rights are the property of “Western” cultures.

Are war and occupation the only safeguard for women's rights in Afghanistan?

By Lindsey German - Stop the War Coalition

If we were to believe the stories coming out of the Bonn conference on Afghanistan, the occupying armies are the thin blue line protecting women there from something much worse.

Isn’t it incredible how much the military operation in Afghanistan relies on the arguments about women’s liberation to justify its continuation?

If we were to believe the stories coming out of the conference on Afghanistan which took place in Bonn on 5 December, the occupying armies are the thin blue line protecting women there from something much worse.

They went to war justifying the killing of thousands in the name of women’s rights. Laura Bush and Cherie Blair endorsed their husbands’ warmongering.

In the ensuing decade since war began ten times as much money has been spent on the military in Afghanistan than on reconstruction -- and most of that reconstruction has been related to military aims.

So women’s position has not altered fundamentally in those ten years, and the billions of pounds spent on war have never been channelled towards social projects which might have improved the positions of women. Now some women fear that secret talks with the Taliban will weaken their position even further. They also fear that austerity cuts in overseas aid will harm the projects over women’s education.

Craig Murray:Afghanistan conference in Bonn is a farce.


In Bed With Lola and Gulnara
By Craig Murray

Americans increasingly comparing Afghan war to Vietnam - Guardian, 291011.

Americans increasingly comparing Afghan war to Vietnam
Latest deaths of US troops in an apparent Kabul suicide attack come as support back home for the war reaches a new low

Paul Harris in New York, Saturday 29 October 2011 20.50

The latest deaths of 13 Americans in Afghanistan in an apparent suicide bomb attack in Kabul comes at a moment when the US public's attitude to the long war is at an all-time low.

A poll late last week, by CNN and ORC International, revealed that only 34% of Americans now support the war, one percentage point down on the previous all-time low. It found that 63% of Americans are now opposed to the war. The deaths of yet more Americans in a conflict that has already cost the lives of more than 1,700 American soldiers is only likely to see support fall further. Indeed the poll showed that some 58% of Americans say that the conflict is now similar to the Vietnam war.

The war is now a serious problem in Obama's strategy for the 2012 election. For a president who already faces discontent over accusations from the left of the Democratic party that he is too close to the Republicans, the Afghan war represents another area where he is out of step with many on his own side. The same poll showed that some six in ten Republicans still supporting the war, compared to just a quarter of Democrats.

Not that anyone thinks formulating strategy in Afghanistan is easy.

Obama's current plan is focused on a gradual drawdown of the extra 33,000 "surge" troops he sent after overhauling Afghan policy in 2009. Those troops are set to leave by the end of 2012. Last week the Pentagon revealed an assessment saying that goal was "on track" even as it also acknowledged that civilian casualties – mostly caused by the Taliban – had reached record numbers this summer with 450 dying in July alone.

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