Tag Archives | Afghanistan

After 10 Years, Afghan Security Guards Untrained

Right now, private contractors provide security to billions of dollars in Afghan aid projects.  President Karsai plans to replace them with Afghan troops in March.  The problem?  Only 1/3 of 165 criteria to judge the training of the forces can be met.  Karsai is standing firm to his committment.  NATO has little choice but to bail him out once again.  Together with the US state department, it expects to field up to 170 advisor/trainers with an added cost of $40 million dollars to maintain the guard training program that the Interior Ministry has defunded and strangled in incompetency.

Forty million dollars is not a lot of money in context of the billions already deployed and wasted by the US in Afghanistan to prop up its weak, venal President.  But the fiasco of the guard training program, managed by the Afghan Interior Department, is one more example, along with renewed militant attacks and assassinations of high-profile Afghan politicians, of the continued deterioration of the Karsai government.

It seems evident that the security situation in Afghanistan is little improved on what it was three years ago or will be three years into the future.  Nothing the US does between now and 2014, when the last of US troops are scheduled to leave, is going to make much difference.  Buying off the population with special projects hasn’t worked and the Afghan military’s ability to provide leadership and stability after the US leaves is dicey.

A political settlement to end this part of the tragic Afghan history would provide just enough cover for the US to leave in 2014 and buy a year or two more before the country collapses into warlord fiefdoms once again.

 

 

 

 

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$1.4 Trillion = Cost of Wars Since 9/11= Budget Cuts/10 Years

The Christian Science Monitor includes a stunning quote from Douglass Elmendorf, head of the Congressional Budget Office:

In his testimony Wednesday, Elmendorf pointed out that discretionary funding for 2011 includes $712 billion in defense spending and $566 billion for nondefense items, including education, energy, environment, and veterans’ benefits.

One point of discussion has been the military’s operation and maintenance budget (part of discretionary spending), which includes the wars winding down in Iraq and Afghanistan. The extent to which reducing those wars can be included as part of deficit reduction over the next decade is a matter of some dispute. Coincidentally, the amount of budget authority for US operations in Iraq and Afghanistan since the terrorist attacks of 2001 has totaled $1.2 trillion – the same amount that lawmakers are now trying to cut over the next 10 years. (emphasis added)

It might not be so coincidental.  The Bush Administration never put the costs of the two wars in any of its budgets.  Obama thought they should be included, and it is those wars that have made the deficit balloon to the extent it has over the last 10 years.

Who cares about who touched whose shoulder in GOP debates?  Or who stumbled with answers this time?  What makes 89% of the American public not trust that the government will do the right thing are scams like the one Bush pulled off by not accounting for the cost of the Afghan and Iraq wars.  This has been known for some time.  Maybe it will now get the attention it deserves.

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Iraq, Afghan Constitutions Based on Islam & Sharia Law

Next time you hear a blowhard complain that a country such as Libya, whose rebels the US supports, dare to proclaim their state an Islamic Republic or their constitution based on Sharia Law and Islamic values, remind them that George Bush, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld supported constitutions in Iraq and Afghanistan that did the same thing in  2004 and 2005.

Juan Cole translates:

Afghanistan, 2004

Article One Ch. 1. Art. 1: Afghanistan is an Islamic Republic, independent, unitary and indivisible state.Article Two Ch. 1, Art. 2: The religion of the state of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is the sacred religion of Islam.

Followers of other religions are free to exercise their faith and perform their religious rites within the limits of the provisions of law.

Article Three
Ch. 1, Art. 3

In Afghanistan, no law can be contrary to the beliefs and laws [ahkam] of the sacred religion of Islam.

Iraq, 2005

Article 2:
First: Islam is the official religion of the State and is the primary basis for legislation:

A. No legislation may be enacted that contradicts the established laws of Islam

B. No law may be enacted that contradicts the principles of democracy.

C. No law may be enacted that contradicts the rights and basic freedoms stipulated in this Constitution.

Second: This Constitution guarantees the Islamic identity of the majority of the
Iraqi people and guarantees the full religious rights to freedom of religious belief
and practice of all individuals such as Christians, Yazidis, and Mandean Sabeans.

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Real Politik: Dump Pakistan, Embrace Uzbekistan?

This piece from Asia Times On-line examines US relations with Uzbekistan since the Afghan war began in 2001 and poses the question of where the US will turn if relations with Pakistan continue to deteriorate.  There seems to be a disbelief in official circles that the US and Pakistan may part ways.  After all, it was in the heat of post 9/11 that Deputy Secretary of State Armitage delivered a ‘work with us or else’ message to then President Musharraf.

What this article says to me is get the hell out of Afghanistan.  Let the chips fall.  They’ll fall now or in 5, 10, 15 years.  Take the hit.  Keep track of the chaos.  Track any terrorist activity as the US does in Yemen and Somalia, but get out.  There is nothing we can do there anymore.

Plainly put, Washington aims to bribe Tashkent into extending greater cooperation with the US-sponsored Northern Distribution Network (NDN), the overland supply lines from Europe to Afghanistan. Uzbekistan has become the hub through which as much as 80% of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) supplies through the NDN reach Afghanistan…

The NDN is much more circuitous and expensive than the routes through Pakistan – some estimates say anywhere up to two to three times more expensive – but the latest development to remove the restrictions on American arms for Uzbekistan shows that Obama is prepared to pay a heavy price simply for the sake of lessening the US’s political dependence on Pakistan.

Obama is cultivating the Uzbek leadership even as he turned down a request from Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani for a meeting this week on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session in New York.

Coming on the heels of the barely-disguised US threats of a hot-pursuit strategy toward the Pakistan-based Haqqani group that is a key component of the Taliban-led resistance in Afghanistan, Obama’s move assumes significance.

The US may be left with no alternative but to have a showdown with Pakistan sometime in a near future and contingency arrangements need to be put in place if the US-Pakistan relationship were to unravel or erupt into a nasty confrontation.

 

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Taliban Kill Another Top Afghan

Burhanuddin Rabani, former Afghan president and leader of the High Peace Council, was shot and killed today.  The bomber may have been vetted by a close associate of Mr. Rabani.  The Council is charged with hammering out a political settlement between the Karsai government and Taliban.  He is the third high-ranking Afghan minister to be assassinated in a few months time.  According to the The New York Times,

He was killed a week after Taliban insurgents orchestrated a surprise attack on several Kabul neighborhoods that demonstrated the seeming ease with which they can strike, despite ambitious efforts by the American-led NATO forces here to improve security and persuade Taliban insurgents to engage in negotiations to end the war.

The Taliban attacks have called into question the basic readiness of President Karzai’s forces to assume security in the country as the foreign military forces gradually withdraw, as they have pledged to do by the end of 2014.

UPDATED: Title

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Will Truck Bombing Injuries of 77 Troops Stop Withdrawal?

A truck bomb exploded in a forward operating base killing several Afghans and lightly wounding 77 American troops.  The McChystal counter-terrorism campaign was heightened under orders from President Obama when General Patraeus took over as Afghan commander.  It has killed many Al Queda and Taliban leaders, including Bin Laden, and more recently, the assumed commander of operations for the group.

There is no reason for the US to remain in Afghanistan.  After 10 years, we should let the chips fall where they may.  Sooner or later, we’ll have to do that anyway.  The US cannot stop Afghans organizing themselves after the US leaves.  President Karsai is hated by his people.  The longer US troops stay, the longer Afghanis will endure a government artificially sustained and acting in a sort of ‘bubble’ atmosphere detached from it people.

Juan Cole selects the ten best reasons the US should leave Afghanistan:

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Is War on Terror Legally Over?

Bruce Ackerman, writing in Foreign Policy reminds everyone that the War on Terror was authorized through a congressional resolution:

The legal authority for the war on terror is a congressional resolution, passed immediately after the 9/11 attacks, approving the use of force against groups that “planned, authorized, committed, or aided” the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center. But a decade later, this resolution can no longer credibly support ongoing military operations.

To me this is crucial, not so much because of the separation of powers issue per se, but

Ackerman

If another attack hits the homeland, it will likely come from terrorists based in Somalia, Yemen, or some other failed state, acting independently of al Qaeda’s increasingly disorganized “central command.” Yet these new groups simply aren’t within the scope of Congress’s decade-old authorization. Now is the time for the president to declare victory in the war against al Qaeda and return to Congress for a new resolution dealing with the new threats of the coming decade, in a world where trillion-dollar wars are an unaffordable luxury…

As long as he pretends to be fighting yesterday’s war against al Qaeda and its vaguely defined “affiliates,” Obama can continue to wield the war-making powers granted him by the 2001 resolution. Once he declares that this mission has been accomplished, the Constitution gives him no choice but to deal with troublemakers in Congress in hammering out new strategic principles for the real-world threats we face.

 

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“I have Come to Bury David, Not to Praise Him”

Politico reports David Petraeus ended his 37-year military stint to praise and applause.  But I applaud President Obama who has shown the tactic skill at out-maneuvering General Petraeus that he hasn’t demonstrated with Republicans.  Obama used Petraeus in jams, and at the same time kept him busy.

A Mutually Strained Strange Relationship:

General Petraeus first came onto the scene as commander of the 101th Airborne in Iraq where he wined and dined angry Sunnis, paid out cash to civilian victims of US bombing and altogether preventing a nasty rebellion using his now famed COIN (Counter Insurgency) strategy.  (Unfortunately, the marine who took over from Petraeus managed not just to re-antagonize the Sunnis, but made them truly fighting mad.  He then rewrote the military’s COIN manual and advocated COIN to accompany the SURGE.

(Actually, Petraeus simply dusted off the old Vietnam manual and copied and copied everything except the Napalm.)

By this time, the media and Congress loved the guy.  So the President plugged the hole left in Afghanistan by General McChrystal – who couldn’t keep his underlings’ mouths zipped – by demoting General Petraeus from CENTCOM commander to head-up Afghanistan. Petraeus was put on the line to make his policies work, pulled a bait-and-swith by sending all hell loose on terrorists in the entire Af-Pak region (which McChrystal had initiated) and won more praise.

So both Petraeus and Obama get credit for killing Bin Laden.  But with Osama gone, what would Petraeus do?  Another brilliant personnel move by President Obama.  While Republicans drooled over Petraeus heading up a GOP ticket, the President convinced Petraeus to run the CIA.   President Obama knew that despite Petraeus’s COIN facade, he was a gun-tottin’ special-ops type of guy.

Meanwhile, for the next two years, the General will be too busy over in Langley to write a tell-all book.  President Obama has General Petraeus exactly where he needs him during the 2012 campaign: buried.

 

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