The U.S. war in Afghanistan is now America’s longest war.
The Vietnam War lasted 103 months. U.S. forces attacked Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001. Our troops have now been in Afghanistan for 107 months (8 years 11 months), and counting.
When we first attacked Afghanistan less than a month after the traumatic events of 9/11, our government told us that the aim of the invasion was to find Osama bin Laden and other high-ranking Al-Qaeda members to be put on trial, to destroy the organization of Al-Qaeda, and to remove the Taliban regime which supported and gave safe harbor to it.
Three months ago, however, on June 27, 2010, CIA chief Leon Panetta admitted the number of al Qaeda remaining in Afghanistan is “relatively small…. At most, we’re looking at 50 to 100, maybe less.”
Now the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the world’s leading think tank for military affairs, has come out with a bombshell of a report claiming that the threat from Al Qaeda and Taleban has been “exaggerated” by the western powers and that the US-led mission in Afghanistan has “ballooned” out of all proportion from its original aim of disrupting and defeating Al Qaeda. Here are excerpts from the press statement of IISS’s Strategic Survey 2010:
As the [Afghan] campaign passes the ten-year mark, public tolerance for the generation-length commitment that political and military leaders in the West have sometimes spoken about is waning. The original strategic goal was to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and prevent its return. War aims traditionally expand, but in Afghanistan they ballooned into a comprehensive strategy to develop and modernise the country and its government. Defeat of the Taliban insurgency was seen as virtually synonymous with the defeat of al-Qaeda, even though much of its organised capacities had been displaced to Pakistan. Many worry that the large presence of foreign troops is what sustains and fuels the Taliban fighters.
…for Western states to be pinned down militarily and psychologically in Afghanistan will not be in the service of their wider political and security interests. The challenge of Afghanistan must be viewed and addressed in proportion to the other threats to international security and the other requirements for foreign-policy investment. With economic, financial and diplomatic activity moving at such a pace and with such varied outcomes internationally, military operations in general have to be all the more carefully considered. Precision and adaptability will be essential watchwords. For heavy, large, military deployment, the longue durée will be seen as an attitude for other times, other centuries….
I am not a leftwing peacenik. I’m a Conservative with a congenital suspicion of government, in the proud tradition of the Founding Fathers, and I take seriously Thomas Jefferson’s warning in his letter to Edward Carrington, 1787, that if the people ever “become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress, and Assemblies, Judges, and Governors, shall all become wolves.”
The original purpose of the Afghan war was to hunt down Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. After almost 9 years, America’s former highest-ranking military officer Colin Powell said yesterday that he doesn’t know whether the U.S. is winning in Afghanistan! Al Qaeda is decimated but slippery Osama allegedly is still at large, although for all we know he could well be dead, but it’s useful to keep him around as the boogeyman. The US purpose in the Afghan hellhole has morphed into the very “nation-building” once decried by presidential candidate George W. Bush, a task for which the military is ill-suited. Not to mention, no one — military or government — can “build a nation” where historically there’s never been one.
The Afghan war has taken the lives of 1,200 of our servicemen and wounded 7,819. The suicide rate in the US army now exceeds the rate across the US as a whole, with an increasing number of active duty soldiers taking their lives due to stress, according to a in-depth army study. If deaths associated with high-risk behaviours – including drink-driving and drug overdoses – are taken into account, more soldiers are dying by their own hand than in combat.
We need to ask why our troops are still dying in Afghanistan and for what purpose? Enough! Bring our men and women home! The only problem is: where are the jobs for our returning military in America’s out-sourced hollowed-out depressed economy?
H/t beloved fellow Joseph Fasciani.
Eric S. Margolis – Sept 13, 2010
The London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) is the world’s leading think tank for military affairs. It represents the top echelon of defense experts, retired officers and senior military men, spanning the globe from the United and Britain to China, Russia and India.
I’ve been an IISS member for over 20 years. IISS’s reports are always authoritative but usually cautious and diplomatic, sometimes dull. Last week, however, the IISS issued an explosive report on Afghanistan that is shaking Washington and its NATO allies.
The report, presided over by the former deputy director of Britain’s foreign intelligence agency, MI-6, says the threat from Al Qaeda and Taleban has been ‘exaggerated’ by the western powers. The US-led mission in Afghanistan has ‘ballooned’ out of all proportion from its original aim of disrupting and defeating Al Qaeda.
The US-led war in Afghanistan, says IISS, using uncharacteristically blunt language, is ‘a long-drawn-out disaster.’
Just recently, CIA chief Leon Panetta admitted there were no more than 50 members of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Yet US President Barack Obama claims has tripled the number of US soldiers there to 120,000 in order to fight Al Qaeda. The IISS report goes on to acknowledge the presence of western troops in Afghanistan is actually fueling national resistance. I saw the same phenomena during the 1980’s Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
Interestingly, the portion of the report overseen by the former MI-6 Secret Intelligence Service deputy chief, Nigel Inskster, finds little Al Qaeda threat elsewhere, notably in Somalia and Yemen. Yet Washington is beefing up its attacks on both turbulent nations.
Abandoning its usual discretion, IISS said it was issuing these warnings because the deepening war in Afghanistan was threatening the west’s security interests by distracting its leaders from the world financial crisis and Iran, and burning through scarce funds need elsewhere. The IISS’s findings are a direct challenge to President Obama, Britain’s new prime minister, David Cameron, and other US allies with troops in Afghanistan. This report undermines their rational used to sustain the increasingly unpopular conflict. It will certainly convince skeptics that the real reason for occupation of Afghanistan has to do with oil, excluding China from the region, and keeping watch on nuclear-armed Pakistan.
Meanwhile, the war in Afghanistan is turning against the increasingly wobbly western occupation forces. The US-installed Afghan leader, Hamid Karzai, openly prepares for direct peace talks with Taleban and its allies – in spite of intense opposition from the US, Britain and Canada. Pro-government Afghan forces are increasingly demoralised. This week, Taleban leader, Mullah Omar, proclaimed the western occupiers were rapidly losing the war. He may well be correct. Nothing is going right for the US-backed Kabul regime or its western defenders. Even the much-ballyhooed US offensive at Marjah, designed to smash Taleban resistance, was an embarrassing fiasco. Civilian casualties from US bombing continue to mount.
Europeans are fed up with the Afghan war. Polls report 60 per cent of Americans think the war not worth fighting. The IISS bombshell comes on the heels of the most dramatic part of the ongoing British Chilcot Inquiry into the origins of the invasion of Iraq. Baroness Manningham-Buller the former head of Britain’s domestic security service, MI-5, testified that the Iraq War was generated by a farrago of lies and faked evidence from the Blair government. What we call ‘terrorism’ is largely caused by the western invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, she testified. The truth about Iraq and Afghanistan is finally emerging. Afghanistan may again prove to be ‘the graveyard of empires.’