Afghanistan

Obama's Biggest Mistake In The World

Obama's Biggest Mistake In The World
Afghanistan is a catastrophe. At the NATO Summit in Chicago, the president will keep covering up the biggest foreign policy mistake of his political career.
Michael Hastings

President Obama will arrive in Chicago this weekend to participate in a charade that has one not-so-hidden goal: Get the hell out of Afghanistan.

After Obama made what many around him now privately acknowledge was a mistake to escalate the conflict three years ago — essentially creating a new war of his own, tripling the size of U.S. forces after he caved under intense pressure from the Pentagon — the White House has been desperately searching for a way out. Ideally, one that couldn’t be spun as a full on retreat.

The administration didn’t find it at the last NATO Summit in Lisbon, Portugal, two years ago. The U.S. still had to pretend they were in it for the next decade.There, NATO Secretary General Anders Foghs Rasmussen boldly committed the U.S. and Europe beyond 2014. “One thing must be very clear: NATO is in this for the long term,” he told reporters at the time.

Today, the calculus has changed completely, while the strategy’s failure is nearly impossible to deny. Bin Laden’s killing — which, for what it’s worth, had zero relationship to the counterinsurgency plan we adopted — gave Obama the political cover to pull it off. Finally, Obama could overrule his generals (which he did a month after the Osama raid) whose plan called for 130,000 troops to stay for years more to come.

"People are ready to see the war be wound down,” says Heather Hurlburt, executive director of the National Security Network. “They don’t really understand. It’s been ten years, Bin Laden is gone, what exactly are we there for again?”

‘The Poetry of the Taliban’ stirs controversy in Britain and beyond

‘The Poetry of the Taliban’ stirs controversy in Britain and beyond
A new anthology is both depressing and revelatory
by Stephen Marche on Friday, May 18, 2012 2:41pm - 0 Comments

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times
The U.K. release of Poetry of the Taliban this month has generated that rarest of media phenomena, a genuine poetry scandal. Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, blasted the collection: “What we need to remember is that these are fascist, murdering thugs who suppress women and kill people without mercy if they do not agree with them.” He went on to accuse the publishers of “being taken in by a lot of self-justifying propaganda.” The editors defended the universality of the experiences described in the collection and compared their book to the recently published Heroes: 100 Poems from the New Generation of War Poets. Both sides believe the poetry in the Taliban anthology will inevitably create sympathy for the enemy; the commander fears the sympathy, the poetry editors desire it. But the most shocking emotion the book inspires isn’t fellow feeling with the butchers of Afghanistan; it is delight. The pleasure of Poetry of the Taliban is its most upsetting feature.

Malalai Joya: These NATO anti-war demonstrations are the most important of our generation

Malalai Joya: These NATO anti-war demonstrations are the most important of our generation
17 May 2012 Malalai Joya Afghanistan and Pakistan
The protesters remind us that the US government is not representative of the US people. It's encouraging to see so many willing to stand up against this unjust, disastrous war in Afghanistan.

By Malalai Joya
The Guardian
16 May 2012

The NO TO NATO demonstration in Chigago is twinned with the protest in London on 19 May outside the US Embassy: Joint statement by National United Antiwar Coalition (US) and Stop the War Coalition (UK)

Thousands of protesters are expected to descend on Chicago this weekend for Nato's annual summit where Afghanistan will be top of the agenda.

It promises to be one of the most important anti-war demonstrations of our generation. I will be unable to travel to attend, but from here in Kabul I can tell you that the whole country will be watching Chicago this weekend.

The protesters remind us that the US government is not representative of the US people. It's encouraging to see so many willing to take action and stand up against this unjust, disastrous war.

Recently Barack Obama travelled to Kabul to meet Afghanistan's so-called president, Hamid Karzai. Both leaders used this meeting to pretend that they are ending this war when they are really trying to prolong it.

Obama knows that the American people are turning against the war, and both men also know that the Afghan people are against not only the war, but the continued occupation of their country.

Both claim that the war will end in 2014, while saying simultaneously that American troops will remain in some capacity until 2024. As 2024 nears they will probably say they mean to remain in Afghanistan until 2034.

Obama's sham Afghanistan treaty that doesn't end the war in 2014 but makes it endless

David Swanson - WarIsACrime.org

Obama and Karzai signed a treaty for more years of war in Afghanistan, just like in Iraq -- the difference being that, the Afghan deal doesn't include an end date.

President Obama has signed an agreement with President Karzai to keep a major US military presence in Afghanistan (currently about three times the size Obama began with) through the end of 2014, and to allow a significant unspecified presence beyond that date, with no end date stipulated.

Obama stresses that no permanent US bases will be involved, but his agreement requires Afghanistan to let US troops use "Afghan" bases.

Obama forgot to provide any reason not to withdraw from Afghanistan now, given majority US desire to end the war. Like Newt Gingrich promising to quit campaigning before actually doing so, Obama is promising to leave Afghanistan, but not yet -- except that he isn't promising to ever leave at all. The agreement is open-ended.

Obama spoke on Tuesday of a transition to Afghan control, but we've heard that talk for a decade. That's not some new bright idea that requires two-and-a-half more years to develop.

Obama talked of fighting al Qaeda, but the US has not been fighting al Qaeda in Afghanistan, and has admitted for years that there is virtually no al Qaeda presence there. That's not the two-year project, and it's not the reason to remain indefinitely after 2014.

The agreement requires that all "entities" involved in a peace process renounce violence, but the Taliban will no more do that while under foreign occupation than the United States will do so while occupying. This is not a serious plan to leave. Nor is it a plan based on Afghan sovereignty, numerous claims to the contrary notwithstanding.

The Taliban need help to break their al-Qaida ties

The Taliban need help to break their al-Qaida ties

The west should offer the pragmatic wing of the Taliban an alternative to al-Qaida's armed struggle

Michael Semple
guardian.co.uk, Monday 30 April 2012 18.10 BST
Article history

So, we have evidence that the Afghan Taliban movement is a veritable extension of al-Qaida and thus must be even more resolute in the fight against them. That would be the obvious initial reaction to the revelation that the leaders of the two movements kept closely in touch right up to the time of Osama bin Laden's death. But anyone drawing this conclusion is glossing over our real strategic failure in Afghanistan – the failure to squeeze the Taliban out of their Faustian alliance with al-Qaida.

Anyone who follows the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan closely knows that, despite the talk of diminished al-Qaida numbers on the ground, its activists and affiliates are heavily involved in the Taliban military campaign. In particular, it contributes military expertise to the spectacular attacks organised out of Waziristan, it sends groups of fighters from there to the front lines and it inspires. The graph of foreign fighters killed or captured in Afghanistan's provinces shows that the al-Qaida-linked international militant coalition is still a factor in the war. The revelations of the correspondence between Bin Laden and Mullah Omar simply confirms that the militant leaders knew what their militaries were up to.

The real question is not whether there are linkages between the Taliban and al-Qaida, it is what to do about these linkages.

George Galloway's victory shows Britain is sick of the war in Afghanistan - Paul Flynn

George Galloway's victory shows Britain is sick of the war in Afghanistan

The Bradford West result is a powerful message of a collapse of trust between people and politicians. The lies must end now

Paul Flynn
guardian.co.uk, Saturday 7 April 2012 14.00 BST
Article history

British soldiers from 2nd Battalion the Rifles cross a waterway through farmland in Helmand province. Photograph: Cpl Timothy L Solano/PA
The people of Bradford West have spoken. It's a message of thunderous simplicity. Our three political parties decide not to see, hear or understand.

Britain is sick of the Afghan war. It is being prolonged by politicians seeking to devise an end that will favour their reputations. After valiant heroism, the Dutch and Canadian parliaments withdrew their troops. The voices of their people demanded an end to the lies and cowardice that were causing their soldiers to risk their lives in a futile conflict.

It was simple and clear in 2001. Tony Blair was in messianic mode, clad in a cloak of infallibility. His prime objective was to build a blood-brother relationship with the Republican Bush as he had with the Democratic Clinton. Rage at 9/11 found its expression in the delusion of western omnipotence. Osama bin Laden had to be found. The tinpot regime in Afghanistan had to be toppled for protecting him. Its 13th-century society had to be transformed into a Scandinavian democracy minus corruption and the drugs trade. Tony Blair explained to the Commons that 90% of the heroin used in Britain came from Afghanistan. He said the country was riddled with corruption and had the second-worst maternal mortality rate in the world. Not an inch of progress has been made in 11 years on all three of these issues. The sacrifice of western blood has made conditions worse. The progress made in education and women's rights is fragile and will not survive Nato's withdrawal.

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